• gwen

Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

TW/CW: slut shaming, sexism, sexual assault, parental physical and emotional abuse, homophobia, panic attacks

Synopsis: 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. But she still 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.

Thoughts: Sometimes books leave you speechless. Such is the case with The Poet X. For the last two years, since its release, I have heard nothing but praise and 5-star reviews. Now I see why.

I have started reading less and less YA (young adult), enjoying very little of what I do read, but I was convinced to give this one a go, and I am so glad. I initially picked it up on one of my morning walks via audio and had difficultly adjusting to the pacing and story line. So I returned to my favorite way of listening to audio books and read the physical copy along to the words. Since the author is the narrator I felt every word. I stand by the fact that the first few poems are not as powerful as the rest, but every story has a beginning and it quickly flipped into one of the most powerful stories I have read. It dealt with many important themes and topics and challenged them along the way. Themes and topics explored range from sexuality and religion to body positivity, feminism, and parental expectations.

This story challenges the labels, unwanted expectations, and stereotypes that are forced upon you by society. It has a Dominican female lead, with a twin brother who has his own secrets. It feels authentic and culturally appropriate to have Spanish sprinkled into the poems. It shows not only Acevedo's heart but her soul and it couldn't be more beautiful.

Rating: ★★★★★