Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publishing Date: March 6th 2018
Published by: HarperTeen
Genres: Comtemporary, YA
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.
The Poet X is an #ownvoices story about a dominican american girl called Xiomara. It’s a story that explores Xiomara’s struggle with inhabiting her body, a body that attracs attention and because of it, it’s unwillingly subjected to the male gaze; it also deals with growing up in a conservative latinx family that it’s extremely religious and that imposes faith and leaves no room for questions. It’s a book about trying to figure who you are in an enviroment that doesn’t leave much room to do so.
This book is written in verse, which allows the reader to connect with the main character, Xiomara, and her struggles so much more and it makes the story more compelling than it would have been if it was written like a normal novel. We get a direct line to the powerful emotions that she is experiencing and trying to express, which allows an intimacy that it wouldn’t have been possible any other way. Despise being written in verse, the narration is still easy to follow because all the different parts are connected and one flows into the other with ease.
One of the strongest aspects of the book is the exploration of faith and religion; reading from Xiomara’s pespective, the reader gets to understand all her doubts around her own faith, but also her questioning of the rol that women have been assigned in catholisms as the sinners, the temptation and a lot of times the inferior gender. It also explores the tension that exists in a lot of latinx families when it comes to religion and how even when certain ceremonies like the Confirmation are meant to be a voluntary acceptance of the faith, they become this mandatory step to be a part of the family. Also, the way this books draws a parallel between prayer and poetry is absolutely sublime and it’s done in a very powerful way.
This book also explores complicated family dynamics and it’s particulary interesting to see the mother/daughter relationship; the misunderstanding, the judgement, the contrary beliefs, but also the way it develops when both mother and daughter try to understand each others truths. They don’t arrive to that point until a huge confrontation that it’s intense, raw and heartbreaking, but seeing the ups and downs of their relationships is compelling and engaging.
Throughout the story, Xiomara discovers slam poetry and it’s amazing to experience, through her perspective, the freedom and the happiness of finding a way to express all her thoughts and emotions in a time of her life when she really needs that outlet.
Rating: 4.7 stars
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