Monday, August 2, 2021

Summer Reading Book #6: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Alright. I've said this before. And I will say it again. This may be my favorite book so far this summer. (Sorry Pride)

To be honest, I haven’t read too many books like this---a book written in verse. And I loved how it looked on the page. I loved the cadence of it. It “sounded” good in my head, if that makes sense. 

The Poet X is the story of Xiomara Batista, the daughter of Dominican immigrants. She lives in Harlem in a cramped apartment with her parents and twin brother, Xavier. She finds refuge in her poetry, and keeps her thoughts and poems secret in a journal. 

Her poetry reveals a sensitivity and vulnerability that is absent from her tough exterior: 

The other girls call me conceited. Ho. Thot. Fast. 
When your body takes up more room than your voice 
you are always the target of well-aimed rumors, 
which is why I let my knuckles talk for me. 
Which is why I learned to shrug when my name was replaced 
    by insults. 
I’ve forced my skin to be as thick as I am. 

X has a hard time living up to the expectations of her mother, and always seems to be the one who is getting in trouble, whether it is over chores, school or boys. “You sure ain’t an easy one,” her mother always reminds her. She recognizes the double standards that exist in the way she is treated versus the often hands-off approach her parents take towards her brother, who she refers to simply as “Twin.” 

But poetry is her life, and when she starts 10th grade her English teacher, Ms. Galiano, not only says her name right on the first try, but also recognizes her talent for poetry. Soon Xiomara has joined the poetry club, and her world opens up. 

Of course, there is a love interest she tries to keep secret. She also learns that Twin has a secret of his own. Xiomara also is in confirmation class, but does not share her mother’s devotion to religion. Xiomara questions her religion and provides thoughtful and authentic critiques of the purpose of religion that I found extremely compelling, especially for a “YA” novel. And, as a result, a conflict with her mother soon explodes. 
 
But through it all, she has her poetry. And shines on stage at an open mic night. 

The resolution may come too quickly. And things may be wrapped up too cleanly, but Xiomara is a force to be reckoned with. Her voice through the verse is what makes this book so engaging. It is a quick read, and I loved being in her world and her thoughts. 
 
The Poet X is available in the ARC.



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