Mini Reviews of Verse Novels: The Black Flamingo, Clap When You Land and Run, Rebel.

Today I’m reviewing three brilliant verse novels I read recently: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, and Run, Rebel by Majeet Mann.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I do not have the words to explain how much I loved this book. It’s just so fabulous. Michael is mixed race half Jamaican and half Greek – Cypriot and often feels like he’s not enough of either to fit in. He’s also gay. He is no stranger to facing racism and homophobia, and we meet him as he embarks on his first year at university, ready for the freedom to live his life his own way, but it proves to be a struggle for him. He is still exploring parts of his sexuality and his gender identity, and that’s not easy for him. He comes across the university Drag Society, looking for a place he can belong, and it is here that he finds a way to express himself as The Black Flamingo. Michael’s journey is wonderful, his story packs a real emotional punch, and has a gorgeous message of learning to love the truest version of yourself. This is one I will definitely read again, it’s a big hug in a gorgeous queer book.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth’s earlier book The Poet X was one of the first verse novels I read, and I loved it. I love Clap When You Land even more. It is the story of two sisters who only discover each other after their father dies in a plane crash. Camino and Yahaira live very different lives. The novel is told from both perspectives and we follow them in grieving for their father, discovering his secrets and then each other. The exploration of grief is brilliant, and really emotional at times. There is a gorgeous f/f relationship in this which warmed my little heart. I loved seeing the sisters work out what they were going to be to each other in the aftermath of the plane crash and the secrets their father left them. This was a brilliant read and one I really recommend.

Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann

Run, Rebel was different to other verse novels I’ve read as each poem or verse has its own title like a collection of poems, rather than one long story. I loved it. Amber has a difficult home life that makes her feel claustrophobic; there is a lot of responsibility and expectation placed on her as a girl in a conservative Indian family, where her parents do not speak English and she has to help them navigate their life. She finds her escape in running, but it isn’t something her father approves of. The dad in this novel made me so, so angry. I loved seeing Amber and her mum grow more determined to find a place for themselves that they are happy with. Amber’s mum is an absolute hero in this book. I won’t spoil it, but she was my favourite character in this, and if you read it, I hope you will see why. Run, Rebel is not an easy read, but it is an important read and it really packs a lot of narrative and emotion. I would be cautious if domestic violence, abuse and alcoholism are triggers for you.

Have you read any of these verse novels? Are there any verse novels you can recommend to me?

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