The Poet X

The Poet X

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...

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Title:The Poet X
Author:Elizabeth Acevedo
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The Poet X Reviews

  • destiny ☠ howling libraries

    I’ve always been fond of stories told through verse, and I love Elizabeth’s poetry, so when I learned that she was writing her first YA novel, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I never once doubted that I would love it, but I didn’t know it could mean so much to me. I didn’t have a clue that I was in for such a raw, honest ride about how religion impacts childre

    I’ve always been fond of stories told through verse, and I love Elizabeth’s poetry, so when I learned that she was writing her first YA novel, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I never once doubted that I would love it, but I didn’t know it could mean so much to me. I didn’t have a clue that I was in for such a raw, honest ride about how religion impacts children and how detrimental it can be to try keeping a teen from blossoming into their own bodies and sexuality. I know

    is a love story to poetry, but as someone who was raised in a sheltered, religious home, terrified of my own body and the things it wanted, this is a love story to those kids, too.

    Every teen’s path has a few major obstacles, and Xiomara’s are her body, and the ways people view her for it. At 15-going-on-16, she’s a tall Dominican girl with a thick figure, and she laments the different struggles it causes her – whether it’s boys (and men) giving her unwanted attention, or her mother blaming her for it.

    Xiomara’s young, but she’s already so painfully aware of what rape culture does to the society she lives in. She constantly is harassed, whether it’s a cat-call on the sidewalk or a stranger’s hand on her curves, but her experience is depicted so

    I think an unfortunate number of women, of all ages, will read this story and relate to the nauseating mixture of guilt and anger brought on by these words and gestures we never, ever asked for – unless breathing in a woman’s body is

    .

    Meanwhile, throughout the struggles of living in this rape culture, Xiomara wants to live, and be happy, and find love. She has a sweet, understated blossom of romance with Aman, a classmate from Trinidad, and even explores the ways in which she can become comfortable in her own skin: learning to see her body as beautiful, not oversized, and discovering what she wants and needs. (By the way, can we please get more books normalizing teen girls who explore their own bodies like this one does? We’ve tried this whole “girls don’t crave sex like boys do” approach in YA for way too long, and it’s clearly not getting anyone anywhere.)

    The other big struggle in Xiomara’s life comes in the form of her family, and her mother’s religious views. If you are uncomfortable with religion being portrayed in a candid and sometimes negative light, I’ll go ahead and say that

    may be one you should go into with caution, as Xiomara does raise a lot of questions about the church, scriptures, and God. She has a hard time coming to terms with the devout beliefs of her loved ones, and the gap between her religious views and her mother’s come to blows (literally) throughout the story. There is an honest depiction of parental abuse in this story, and her mother’s excuses are consistently rooted in her religious beliefs, which I know may make some of my religious friends uncomfortable, so I wanted to offer fair warning on that.

    There’s also quite a lot of discussion regarding how girls are raised in devoutly religious households, and how common it is that they are taught that their bodies are a stumbling block for the men in their lives. Xiomara finds herself frustrated by the idea that she is expected to carry the full burden of what men do to her body, and muses a few concerns about how absent she feels that God is from the objectification and abuse she faces. There’s also a bit of talk about how queer individuals are treated in the church, as Xiomara’s twin brother is gay and closeted, and the siblings feel a substantial amount of terror regarding how he’s going to be treated if he is outed.

    At its core,

    is a story about overcoming the ideals that our families push upon us, learning how to know who we are and what we want, and loving ourselves when the world doesn’t make it easy. It’s about family, and the ways that we try to make situations work, and the desperation with which we must remember that, at the end of the day, we have to keep ourselves happy and safe – no matter the relationships it may cost us. It’s about body positivity and loving the skin that we’re in, and fighting back against a society that reduces us to cup sizes and the length of our skirts. It is a beautiful, empowering, diverse, feminist tale, and I will undoubtedly be recommending it to everyone, but especially to any young girls who need to hear that they are whole, they are good, and they deserve happiness and freedom.

  • Tomi Adeyemi

    #ThePoetX was so beautiful that I didn’t want to highlight it or dog ear pages, so I just took pictures basically every page

    This was the type of book where “I’ll just do 50 pages” turned into finishing it in 2 reads

    I felt very emotional reading this book, not just because the story and the words themselves were so beautiful, but because I knew it was going to make so many teens who felt like no one cares about them or listens to them feel seen.

    I also knew that if I had had books like this or Lo

    #ThePoetX was so beautiful that I didn’t want to highlight it or dog ear pages, so I just took pictures basically every page

    This was the type of book where “I’ll just do 50 pages” turned into finishing it in 2 reads

    I felt very emotional reading this book, not just because the story and the words themselves were so beautiful, but because I knew it was going to make so many teens who felt like no one cares about them or listens to them feel seen.

    I also knew that if I had had books like this or Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds as a kid, I wouldn’t have taken me until the age of 17 to realize I loved reading and writing

    Can’t say enough good things about these books, everyone should pre-order and read it! It’s out 3/6/18!!

  • Laurie Anderson

    A story that will slam the power of poetry and love back into your heart!! Highly recommended!

  • Cyn (semi-hiatus)

    I keep re-reading some passages. Slam poetry means a lot to me!

    A touching story about a young Hispanic woman growing up in Harlem with a very devout mother. But there is so much more to it than that <3

    I couldn't say enough about this book if I tried - I just adore it to pieces. I'm extremely glad this came in my PageHabit YA box for March, the comments from the author make the experience exponentially better (as if it wasn't fantastic already

    I keep re-reading some passages. Slam poetry means a lot to me!

    A touching story about a young Hispanic woman growing up in Harlem with a very devout mother. But there is so much more to it than that <3

    I couldn't say enough about this book if I tried - I just adore it to pieces. I'm extremely glad this came in my PageHabit YA box for March, the comments from the author make the experience exponentially better (as if it wasn't fantastic already :P ) <3 <3

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    I. GOT. THIS. LETS. DO. THIS.

  • Kate (GirlReading)

    This was absolutely stunning. I absolutely adored the way Elizabeth Acevedo writes. It was incredibly powerful and honest and the characters she created were so personable, especially Xiomara. I found myself rooting for her from the first page onwards and essentially finished this book in one sitting, it was far too addictive and moving to put down. I’ve not read many books written in verse but it was by far my favourite. The story flowed flawlessly and was so easy to follow and connect to. Ther

    This was absolutely stunning. I absolutely adored the way Elizabeth Acevedo writes. It was incredibly powerful and honest and the characters she created were so personable, especially Xiomara. I found myself rooting for her from the first page onwards and essentially finished this book in one sitting, it was far too addictive and moving to put down. I’ve not read many books written in verse but it was by far my favourite. The story flowed flawlessly and was so easy to follow and connect to. There were so many elements I adored, from the way Xiomara’s draft and final assignments seemed to portray what she was actually thinking and feeling and wanted to write vs. what she felt she had to write, to the brilliant narrative in which Xiomara questions and attempts to take charge of where she stands in terms of her and her families religious beliefs. There wasn’t a page of this book that wasn’t powerful and lyrical and I’m so incredibly excited to see what Elizabeth Acevedo has in store for her next book because, if this was anything to go by, I’m sure it will be utterly stunning.

  • may ➹

    wow this book COMPLETELY blew me away

    I’m a huge fan of poetry (whether it be slam or otherwise), and I had a feeling this would be a great book.

    I think this is such an IMPORTANT book today; it’s from the perspective of a Dominican fat teen, it shows just how powerful words are whether they break or heal you, and it discusses all different types of relationships and learning to climb back up when everything (or ev

    wow this book COMPLETELY blew me away

    I’m a huge fan of poetry (whether it be slam or otherwise), and I had a feeling this would be a great book.

    I think this is such an IMPORTANT book today; it’s from the perspective of a Dominican fat teen, it shows just how powerful words are whether they break or heal you, and it discusses all different types of relationships and learning to climb back up when everything (or everyone) has left you broken

    and while I’m not struggling with my religion right now, and I generally don’t like religion talks in books,

    . I’m not limited by others because of their religious beliefs, but I’ve faced different types and levels of oppression by religious people because I’m not Christian. and even though it’s not the same, I could really really connect to what Xiomara was feeling

    maybe slightly longer review to come?

    Dominican fat female MC, Dominican gay twin brother, Trinidadian male love interest, possibly-Dominican friend (?)

    parental physical & emotional abuse, nonconsensual sexual contact, fatphobia (challenged)

  • (Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

    I loved how honest, raw & beautiful this book was. Elizabeth Acevedo gave voice to so many youth through Xiomara. I was her in my youth and this book took me back to those teen years growing up in NY with strict Hispanic parents. How I wish I had a book like this to remi

    I loved how honest, raw & beautiful this book was. Elizabeth Acevedo gave voice to so many youth through Xiomara. I was her in my youth and this book took me back to those teen years growing up in NY with strict Hispanic parents. How I wish I had a book like this to remind me that I too was seen and heard during those emotionally wrought, chaotic years.

    The story tackled so many important topics - family, love, religion, self-acceptance, sexuality, sexual harassment, friendship and it does so flawlessly in verse that keeps you turning the pages.

    The relationships in the book are powerful - Xiomara & her twin Xavier, Xiomara & her mother (this relationship was wrought with emotion!), Xiomara and her father, Xiomara & her friend Caridad, Xiomara & Aman (her first love), Xiomara & her priest, Xiomara and her teacher, Ms. Galiano - all of them were complex and helped shape her.

    Xiomara's voice was compelling, vulnerable, empowering and above all passionate. I probably would never have read this book if it hadn't arrived in my Page Habit box. I'm grateful it did because I would have missed out on a treasure! I look forward to seeing more from Elizabeth Acevedo in the future. She writes from the heart, celebrating her culture and giving a positive voice to hispanic/latino girls. This debut novel has certainly made me a fan. Now, I'm off to find some clips of her performing her award winning slam poetry.

  • Lola

    : Bad poetry ahead.

    I stand here, and I think,

    if there is one thing I want to say,

    to Xiomara,

    it’s that she is proof effervescent passion and love,

    transcend hate.

    Words have the power,

    to open your chest,

    and pull your heart out,

    and carry it to the sky.

    But if those words are not expressed,

    if they remain imprisoned,

    and you remain restrained,

    you will never feel freedom.

    I want to let them free,

    to let them fly,

    to let them breathe,

    to let me cry,

    my emotions out,

    to form a pool,

    that becomes a sanct

    : Bad poetry ahead.

    I stand here, and I think,

    if there is one thing I want to say,

    to Xiomara,

    it’s that she is proof effervescent passion and love,

    transcend hate.

    Words have the power,

    to open your chest,

    and pull your heart out,

    and carry it to the sky.

    But if those words are not expressed,

    if they remain imprisoned,

    and you remain restrained,

    you will never feel freedom.

    I want to let them free,

    to let them fly,

    to let them breathe,

    to let me cry,

    my emotions out,

    to form a pool,

    that becomes a sanctuary.

    So that happened. Yeah. Never wrote a poem in my life. And now I’ve written four (bad ones). I guess I can only improve from here.

    But seriously, gorgeous book. If you’ve enjoyed

    by Sarah Crossan, you’ll love this for sure.

    Buddy read with dear

    . ♡

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  • Tatiana

    As with many other novels-in-verse, I am struggling to call this poetry. To me, this is beautiful, effective prose, cut up and served up in small bits. I am used to traditional poetry (that rhymes at least occasionally) and might need further literary education to get on board with this concept of chopping up prose to present it in a visually distinctive and pleasing way and calling it poetry.

    But I digress...

    I recommend listening to this novel on audio. The author does an outstanding job readin

    As with many other novels-in-verse, I am struggling to call this poetry. To me, this is beautiful, effective prose, cut up and served up in small bits. I am used to traditional poetry (that rhymes at least occasionally) and might need further literary education to get on board with this concept of chopping up prose to present it in a visually distinctive and pleasing way and calling it poetry.

    But I digress...

    I recommend listening to this novel on audio. The author does an outstanding job reading her creation (and it doesn't sound like poetry in her reading either!)

    The weakest part for me was the ending. Easy conflict resolutions and unearned forgiveness don't work for me. Nobody is owed absolution for horrible deeds, especially if they don't even feel bad for doing them!

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