Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre/s: Young Adult, Poetry, Contemporary
My rating: 5/5 stars
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.
Although the cover is really beautiful, it was the synopsis that really lead me into buying this book. I was a literary writer in college so I wrote a lot of poems. Reading the the book’s synopsis, I was just so intrigued and excited to read a story that involves poetry.
Okay, imagine my surprise when I open the book for the first time, and see that the whole book is actually written and told in poem form! That was truly exciting to me! I want to know just how the author will tell the story in verses, how she will take it to different levels.
When I finally read the book, I was not disappointed. At all. There is beauty in poetry, I know that. But in this book, this is where I truly felt the power in poetry, as if I could almost feel it in my very hands. I felt like power is something tangible, and Acevedo’s writing and poems are the ones that are handing it to me. It felt amazing.
Every poem was laced with emotions—anger, love, confusion, determination, passion. There were also lines that made feel winded and breathless because of how beautiful the writing and the message is. The author is truly brilliant, her poems weaved a very beautiful story, and I was amazed from the first page until the very last.
The characters were also really good, especially the protagonist Xiomara. Her personality shone bright in this book; she was passionate, she was loving, she was fierce and protective. I loved reading the story through her perspective.
I liked the other characters as well, and I have to give kudos to the author again because she was able to project great characterization through the different poems. Even though Xiomara is the protagonist and the story is told through her perspective, the other characters were not definitely not neglected. They had their own moments in different poems and I really loved that.
The plot was also amazing! I love how this book did not just focus on one thing, it had other subplots with other themes that truly added more impact on the story. There was something about family, about friends, about religion and Xiomara’s own faith. There were also feminist themes, issues about love, and problems within the society.
I guess the only thing I did not like about the plot was how the subplot regarding Twin did not have a definite ending. I wanted to know more about what will happen to him and his own battle, but there weren’t any more details at the end of the book. I craved for more of his story. Apart from that, everything else is great!
Quotes from the book
“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.”
“My brother was birthed a soft whistle: quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound. But I was born all the hurricane he needed to lift—and drop—those that hurt him to the ground.”
“i think of all the things we could be if we were not told our bodies were not made for them.”
“The world is almost peaceful when you stop trying to understand it.”
“Maybe, the only thing that has to make sense
about being somebody’s friend
is that you help them be their best self
on any given day. That you give them a home
when they don’t want to be in their own.”
There goes my last, and favorite, read of September! Truly amazing. I can’t wait to read more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s works now!
How about you guys? have you read this yet? What were your thoughts? Comment them down!