4 YA Novels in Verse by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

crash boom love1. Crashboomlove (University of New Mexico Press, 1999) From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Cesar Garcia is careening. His father, Papi Cesar, has left the migrant circuit in California for his other wife and children in Denver. Sweet Mama Lucy tries to provide for her son with dichos and tales of her own misspent youth. But at Rambling West High School in Fowlerville, the sides are drawn: Hmongs vs. Chicanos vs. everybody vs. Cesar, the new kid on the block. Precise and profound, CrashBoomLove will appeal to and resonate with high school readers across the country.

 

 

 

 

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2. Downtown Boy by Juan Felipe Herrera (Scholastic Press, 2005)   Juanito Palomar is new to San Francisco. He moved there from the central valley after his father had to go away. Herrera’s novel in verse is set in the 1950s and follows Juanito through the trials and tribulations of being a young man of color. Juanito doesn’t understand why his father comes and goes from the family as often as he does. Throughout the story, Jaunito struggles to define his masculinity and to define his relationship with his father. Herrera tells a beautiful story about a father’s and son’s desire to belong, to find healing, and to be with each other.

 

 

 

 

cinnamon girl3. Cinnamon Girl: Letters found Inside a Cereal Box (2005/ Harper Collins, revised edition 2016) Publisher description: U.S Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera delivers this moving tale of one teen seeking courage amid tragedy. When the towers fall, New York City is blanketed by dust. One the Lower East Side, Yolanda, the cinnamon girl, makes her manda, her promise, to gather as much of it as she can. Maybe returning the dust to Ground Zero can comfort all the voices. Maybe it can help her Uncle DJ open his eyes again. As misfortunes from her past mix in the air of an unthinkable present, Yolanda searches for hope in the silvery dust of Alphabet City.

 

 

 

 

Skate fate

4. Skate Fate (Rayo, 2011) From Goodreads: I wanted to roar out touch things i had never touched. to see if it was true. was i still here was this life still here. on this side. whatever you call it dude. wanted to touch everything like van Gogh touched and smeared everything when he painted. so i wrote it and spoke it. maybe mama would hear me. cuz i could hear her. sayin’ When your heart hurts, sing. wherever you go. Lucky Z has always lived on the edge—he loved to skateboard, to drag race, to feel alive. But things have taken a turn—he’s living with new foster parents and a tragic past. An accident changed everything. And only his voice will set him free.

 

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