Sunday, October 3, 2010

Verse Novel Challenge: Hugging the Rock

This is the fourth verse novel I've read this year. One more to go before I reach my goal for author Caroline Starr Rose's Verse Novel Challenge.

Here's the jacket copy:

What do you do when your mom runs away from home?

Rachel retreats into herself -- away from the father who has always kept his distance, away from school, and away from her best friend. Rachel's mom says that her dad is a rock, the good kind you can always count on. But Rachel doesn't even know if he really loves her. And she doesn't know the secrets he's kept since before she was born. Slowly, over time, Rachel grows close to the parent who stayed and comes to understand the truth of why her mom left.

I enjoyed this book. It was a super-quick read. That's one thing I love about verse novels. They're instant gratification. You can read them in a few hours, but there's plenty of time to go back and savor the language.

Hugging the Rock was an emotional read for me. Main character Rachel's mother is bi-polar. Author Susan Taylor Brown did a wonderful job of describing this disorder by weaving Rachel's flashbacks about her mother into the story. This part, to me, was so believable and was a tremendous hook to keep reading. I came to the end of the book understanding the mother's plight, and even though the things she did were sometimes terrible, I found I could relate to her. Maybe it was pity, but I didn't dislike her (like I would be tempted to dislike any mother who could walk away from her children for no good reason).

The real drive of this story, though, is the relationship between Rachel and her father. They don't have a bond at the beginning of the book, but since they have been abandoned together, they have to forge one. Rachel's epiphany moment is when she realizes the depth of her father's love..

Overall, this was an incredibly simple middle-grade novel, but it's beautiful because of its simplicity. It's an easy read. I'd definitely recommend it.

And in related news: Caroline Starr Rose will be giving tips about writing verse novels on her blog this week. I'm so excited about this. I don't know if I told you all, but my WiP is written both in prose and verse. I actually asked Caroline if she would share some tips on her blog because I'm feeling incredibly inept as I try to wade through my edits. And she has kindly agreed to comply! So, if you are interested in verse novel writing, or are already writing one, make sure to follow Caroline's amazing blog.

Now, dear readers, a question: Do you enjoy verse novels? Ever thought about writing one?


  1. Boy do I feel sheepish. I have no clue what a verse novel is. *hangs head* *heads off to Google*

  2. I've read several of the verse novels you've recommended, Amy, but trying to write one sounds intimidating. I'm perfectly okay with letting someone rip apart my prose, but I'm still a little shy about my poetry (probably because I hardly ever write it).

    Oh, and then there's that small issue that when you're writing in verse, every. word. really. counts. (See, I should probably cut "really" from that last sentence:) )

  3. So glad you enjoyed this! HUGGING THE ROCK was edited by my editor, so I feel a special kinship with it.

    I hope I'll be able to give you some direction this week.

  4. I'm so behind on Caroline's challenge! I'll let you know what I think of verse novels once I catch up. :o)

    Thanks for sharing your great review, Amy!

  5. It took me a while to search online, only your site open up the fully details, bookmarked and thanks again.

    - Laura