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The Poet X

The Poet X
Elizabeth Acevedo
HarperTeen, 2018
Source: E-Galley, My Own Bookshelf
Audience: Older Teens

From 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.

Elizabeth Acevedo is the coolest. I saw her speak at ALA Midwinter and was incredibly impressed with everything that she had to say and her poetry. I found The Poet X just as impressive. Usually in teen fiction, characters are either complete rebels with no remorse or good, obedient kids who, if they do anything wrong at all, it was a mistake. Xiomara is somewhere in the middle. Her mother sets impossible standards for her and Xiomara just wants to be herself. However, she also wants to make her mother happy. It’s a complex, beautiful story with a perfect ending. I fully expect a sequel featuring Twin!