Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dare to be different

Booklist has never given me a good review. So fine, one or more of them don't like verse novels. But when an editor from the Booklist "youth brigade" puts verse novels on the list of seven things he'd like to see "change or just go away," I had to comment. 

Here's the thing. Verse novels are different. I get that. But for some teens, they are the perfect kind of different. As I said in my response on that post, I get at least a few e-mails a week from teens who specifically write to me and tell me they usually hate to read, but they love my books.

Here are just a couple of examples of notes I've gotten:

"I am 14 years old. I found the book called I heart you, you haunt me in my school library and I decided to read it. I do not like to read at all. So my teacher forced me to read so I opened the book up and I started to read. WOW. I actually read. This book was so good I could not stop reading."

"Hi I'm Ashley, I love your book I heart you You haunt me.. I read it in only 1 day yes 1 day.. now I really lookin foward to reading Far From You. I think its gonna be another really good book. I hate reading but ever since I started reading your books it makes me want to read more."

I don't post these to pat myself on the back. I post these to say - thank goodness I don't write for the editors of Booklist. I write for teens who want or need a little something different to read. 

Different. I'm so glad there are artists before me who weren't afraid to be different. Who didn't let the critical adults of the world silence them.

On January 8th, 2008, three years ago from today, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released into the world. Yes, it's different. And it is certainly not the best book ever written. Far from it. I read it now and see all of its faults. But it has touched many teens, and some adults too, and has been a doorway into reading for some teens. And amazingly, it is still on bookstore shelves and continues to sell. 

So today, I say - Dare to be different!


And Happy Birthday little book of mine!



  1. Wow, some of that guy's comments were so flabbergastingly off-base! What if a certain set of teens enjoys verse novels or dystopia or paranormal romance (even if paranormal romance doesn't happen to be my cup of tea). Those books are satisfying a need in the marketplace. It's not any one person's place to suggest they should go away until the readers decide they are unsatisfied with them. Sheesh Louise!

  2. I've never understood people who assume that their way of seeing the world is the only way. If you're not a fan of novels-in-verse, why not stop reading them? I don't love sci-fi or self-help books, but I don't think that they should stop being written.

    Verse novels, as you suggest, appeal to specific types of readers. Often, I find that some of my reluctant or "lower" readers are the first to pick them up. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with the spare use of words and the reliance on visual and emotional imagery to get a story across. Books like Keisha's House or Make Lemonade have been huge hits in my classroom--Mostly with virtual non-readers.

    And, contrary to what this person says, there is a beauty inherit in verse. I love the look of a poem on a page. It excites me visually and makes me want to read. If this person is not excited by a beautifully crafted poem, I feel sad for him. Poetry is one of my most-often enjoyed art forms. How lonely my life would be without it!

    Thanks for writing in verse. My students are fans. And their reading. And that's what matters.

  3. I'm Going to read his topic in a minute
    but I wanted to comment first because yay I can post another "controversial" Topic on my Blog seems these things never go away

    Now about your books...I love them both of them made it to my Favorite book list and by favorite I mean 5 star I would recommend these books to anyone favorite. I personally love to read give me a book I'll read it but I also like your verse novels because they are short but still get a story across

    I'm excited to read your new book once it comes out so so so so so so excited

  4. Stephanie, I know. Obviously, he has his tastes, as we all do, but how harsh to say they should go away!

    Mrs. DeRaps, You are awesome. That is all.

    Kate, thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to me!! And I agree, sometimes a short book and/or something a little different is a welcome change.

  5. I read the article and thought your comment was very well said.

    We need books for all readers....and every story has its own way of wanting to be told.

    Happy Birthday to your book baby.


  6. Lisa,

    You are so right! I was so delighted when my 8-year-old boy read Sharon Creech's Love that Dog and loved it! This being a boy who read mostly Geronimo Stilton (nothing against Geronimo!). Anyway, novels-in-verse aren't going to be loved by everyone, but it would be a sad sad day indeed if they were to ever stop being published.

    I enjoyed your books and I also love writing novels-in-verse, so here's another writer who's not afraid to be different.

  7. Happy Birthday to your lovely little book Lisa!

    And verse novels are beautiful.

  8. So true! You have to follow your gut and write the story that is in your heart. If you run around chasing trends you still won't make everyone happy. Congrats on your accomplishments, especially that of helping spread a love of reading amongst our nation's youth! Very cool. :)

  9. Good for you. I have had so many agents/editors tell me that no one buys cozy mysteries and without sex, books don't sell. Thank goodness we don't listen to them.
    Keep up the great work.

  10. i would have to say this book is my favotie book of all times and thinking of if i went through te same things she did how i would deal with it and i just have to say i could read this book over and over and never get tired of it :)