Published by Harper Teen on March 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
This. Was. Amazing.
I have no words. At least no words as eloquent or as powerful as EAcevedo or The Poet X. But here’s my attempt at a worthy review…
The Poet X is the first novel I’ve read written entirely in verse. I wasn’t certain how I’d feel about it but I needn’t have been nervous. EAcevedo delivered Xiomara’s story with passion and eloquence. And I love every moment.
Xiomara is 15. She’s the daughter of Dominican immigrants. She and her twin brother, Xavier or “Twin”, share a bedroom in the apartment where they live with their parents. Things they share besides a bedroom: difficult parents – their dad isn’t present and their mom dotes on “Twin” while being extremely demanding of Xiomara. Xiomara has chores and stringent rules and mandates – like no dating – all of which feels stifling to an adolescent girl. Especially the no dating since boys (and men) have been looking and even touching her inappropriately since she hit puberty. Then there are the confirmation classes Xiomara is made to take even though she’s uncertain about her thoughts on God. And finally there is this boy… The only outlet Xiomara has is her poetry. Thankfully, she has a teacher who nurtures her poetry and introduces her to poetry slams.
EAcevedo brilliantly conveys all the feelings and questions and doubts Xiomara is experiencing. That she did it in verse is so incredibly impressive. What’s even more impressive is how she managed to allow me, someone with nothing in common with a 15 yo daughter of immigrant parents living in NYC and attending school and Catholic church, to connect with Xiomara. I identified with her on certain levels but mostly I was in awe that a girl still struggling to figure out the world and her place in it was so in touch with her feelings. It was inspiring.
The Poet X left me speechless and moved. It’s no wonder this book won the National Book Award. I already have EAcevedo’s next novel, With the Fire on High, on my shelf and I can’t wait to read it.
YOU. SHOULD. READ. THIS. BOOK!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- B & L's Excellent Reading Challenge Adventure