The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo Review

The Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo | Harper Teen | Pub: 3/6/18


“And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

I am about to make a crazy claim, this is my number 1 read of the year. You’re thinking, “Michelle, it is only July, you cannot make these claims yet.” Yes, it is early in the year still, but I mean, a book would have to really be SOMETHING to beat out The Poet X.

The Poet X is the second book I have read by Elizabeth Acevedo. I read With the Fire on High last year which made my top ten reads of 2019. The Poet X is about Xiomara, a high school sophomore who loves to write poetry in her journal, who is forced to believe in things she doesn’t, who is navigating love for the first time and so much more.

Xiomara’s parents are strict, mostly her mom though. Her mother is very religious, and it causes a good majority of the problems that Xiomara goes through. So, Xiomara writes and writes all of her poems to get her feelings out, to express herself.

Watching Xiomara grow throughout the book was so enjoyable. She questions things and becomes more of her own person. Towards the end of the book, I cried quite a bit. There is a “showdown” with her mother, and it is heart breaking.

This book is written entirely in verse and it is so beautiful. Every page created so many feelings within me. I typically dog ear pages with quotes/passages I love in books and most of my pages have been dog eared. It was quite difficult to pick a quote for this review because so many resonated with me.

My suggestion is that if you have not read this book to read it immediately. You will love it. I had chosen this book for my book club to read this month and I am truly glad we read it.

Synopsis (Credit: Goodreads)

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

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.

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