TITLE: The Poet X
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Acevedo
RELEASED: March 6, 2018
PUBLISHER: Hardie Grant Egmont
GENRE: YA Poetry, Contemporary
GOODREADS RATING: 4.45
TRIGGERS: Body-shaming, bigotry, slut-shaming, parental abuse, homophobia
REPS: LGBTQIA+, Dominican rep
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.
I’ve read some poetry before – namely Rupi Kaur’s two poetry collections, but that’s about it. So when I heard about The Poet X being in verse and knowing it would be a story with a lot of tough subjects.. I was intrigued to say the least. Once again, it took me a while to get to it but once I got started? I couldn’t stop!
Like I said, I’m not used to reading a lot of poetry. Let alone a book in verse. I didn’t know what exactly to expect going in. I definitely didn’t expect to have the writing influence my reading the way it did.
Every poem had this very specific effect on me because of the way it was formatted. Either I felt like I had to read it more slowly, or in a more normal speed, or as fast as I could like I needed to hurry up. Some poems even had me trying to read faster and more slowly at the same time! Experiencing that, was.. very unique? I don’t even know how to explain it exactly. I guess if you read The Poet X yourself, you probably get what I’m trying to say here, haha.
X, our main character, is one I truly admire. She’s portrayed amazingly through her poems. You see her. No excuses, no bullshit, no smoke and mirrors. She can’t hide anywhere and that’s amazing. You feel what she’s going through, how she sees things and it’s so very easy to understand her and connect with her.
The tough subjects are definitely present in this book. I wrote down a bunch, then wrote my review and went through some other reviews to add to them. There’s simply that many, some I overlooked or didn’t even realize because I was so drawn into the poems.
In any case, you should know that there’s a lot of things present that might be triggering, like I mention at the top of this post. But overall The Poet X is about finding yourself and finding the strength to speak up and be heard. About respecting yourself and fighting for others to respect you as well. A battle that’s never easy, for anyone.
I always knew poems had power but Elizabeth Acevedo proved to me, once again, exactly how powerful they can be. She uses this story to encourage people to use their voices and I absolutely love her for it.
It’s about any of the words that bring us together and how we can form a home in them.
I think it’s fairly obvious this is a book that leaves a mark on people reading it. It did on me. The unique format combined with the message it contains is one not to be underestimated. Although I can’t say I’ll add it to my favorites, it’s definitely one of my favorite books when it comes to these subjects.
Have you read books with unusual formatting? What did you think of them?