“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”
― Elizabeth Acevedo,
The Poet X
By: Elizabeth Acevedo
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’m going to be completely honest with you, I don’t know that I can completely describe my feelings about this novel in words. This year I have read book after book that s been astounding and The Poet X is definitely at the top of my list.
Some books are memorable because they were good. This novel will be remembered because it is important and impactful. I was so moved by the honesty in this novel. The Poet X gave a voice to young women of color. I could see many of the struggles she was going through as a reflection of some of the struggles our middle school and high school students currently face.
Xiomara struggled with peers, sexuality, sexism, and religion through this novel. These are aspects of life that impact our society yet are often looked over in novels about the youth of our nation. Ignoring the issues does no good. Elizabeth Acevedo beautifully weaves a narrative that highlights these issues and confirms that people experiencing these things are not alone.
On top of the wonderful storyline that breathed honesty and sincerity Acevedo told it all in verse. The added component of verse gave an added layer of reality to the story. Xiomara found a way to express herself through poems and Acevedo showed that through writing in verse.
I don’t think I could praise this book highly enough. If you haven’t read it yet go out and read it as soon as possible.
How do you feel about novels written in verse?