Publisher : HarperTeen
Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary
Page Count: 368
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, 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. (From Goodreads)
CW: Sexual harrassment, physical and emotional parental abuse, panic attacks, homophobia, fatphobia (all challenged).
I wasn’t planning on reviewing The Poet X. I really wasn’t. Because I listened to the audiobook and I made it a rule not to write full reviews of those just because I listen while driving so I never take notes. But this is the one exception. I read this book three months ago but the words and the feelings are still so vivid in my memory that I decided to let it all out of my system and write a review out of it. It’s safe to say I adored it.
The writing is absolutely stunning, it’s gripping, raw and it packs one heck of a punch. The Poet X is written in verse, slam poetry to be more exact and if you know anything about it, you know how emotional this type of poetry can get, especially when performed. Which is why I recommend listening to the audiobook if you’re able, it’s narrated by the author, and I don’t if it’s just because of the content or because the author knows exactly what she’s talking about, but while listening to this I found myself holding my breath sometimes, or gasping, my heart hammering in my ears. That’s just how huge of an impact this book made on me.
The Poet X is one of the best debuts I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. It’s poignant, and Elizabeth Acevedo doesn’t shy away from showing the truth as it is, no sugar coating it. Through Xiomara’s day to day life, she was able to tackle so many different and equally important topics and issues. The main one being street harrassement and how that shapes up people who grow up victims of it. This part in particular resonated with me on a cellular level. It also talks about what it is like growing up in a conservative household with super religious parents, while questioning said religion, in this case, it’s catholicism. And the ongoing theme throughout the whole book is the importance of words and music and how sometimes they can be a person’s only lifeline.
The main character, Xiomara, is so strong and fierce, which is great, until you see that she’s the way she is because of circumstances that “forced” her into it, then it because a little heartbreaking. She feels as if she’s constantly fighting the world, her parents, who are abusive sometimes, the boys in her school and on the streets who seem to think her body is public property, and even her brother and best friend sometimes. And all that led her to build a wall around herself and no one truly knowing her better than her notebook where she writes slam poetry.
We also see so much character growth for her, how she opens up little by little, how she starts taking chances and opportunities, allowing herself little pieces of happiness, finding a safe haven in her poetry club. I just *clenches fist* LOVE XIOMARA SO MUCH. I saw a lot of myself and my feelings in her, she just hit me so deeply. Her relationship with her twin brother is just so amazing, it’s real, they fight, push each other away but are ultimately protective of each other. One other element I loved at the end, is that her parents start realizing that they’re in the wrong and promise and try to be better but not everything is magically fixed.
I highly HIGHLY recommend reading The Poet X if you’re comfortable reading about the topics stated above. It’ll hit you hard. It’ll hit you good. And you’re going to love every minute of it.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read The Poet X? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.