The Poet X

The Poet X

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award!

Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

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. But she still 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.

"Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice." --Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation

"An incredibly potent debut." --Jason Reynolds, author of the National Book Award Finalist Ghost

"Acevedo has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero." --Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street

Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper,, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2018
ISBN: 9780062662804
Characteristics: 361 pages


From the critics

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Jul 17, 2020

Overall I liked it. She does not shy away from what a teenager's life is really like. Love, love, loved, loved the Dominican background and use of Spanish in the verse. She really fleshes out her world in a way that is poetic and concrete.

My harshest criticism and that several of the poems could have had more weight if she cut down on the number of them. Still a fast read and enjoyable. Highly recommend.

Jul 17, 2020

The Poet X is a book centred around the life of a girl named Xiomara, who has a lot of frustration from her current living situation. She has a lot of experiences with the male gaze, and constantly gets unwanted attention or harassment for her body. She has tried to express her concerns to multiple people (like her mother) but has always been dismissed and has always been the one to blame simply for her body type. Xiomara also comes from a very Christian household, with a very strict and religious mother who pushes very harsh rules on her daughter, but she inevitably encounters a guy named Aman, who she catches feelings for. She becomes increasingly aware that dating would make her mother unhappy, since she set a rule of not dating any guys and always putting Christianity first. As well, Xiomara comes to the realization that her brother is gay, knowing full well that her family is extremely homophobic. She develops a lot of frustration and anger from all the unwanted problems in her life, and begins to write poetry in her journal. She writes about a better life, her feelings, problems and more, but keeps all her poems to herself. That is, until, she decides to join her school’s slam poetry club. She decides to speak some of her poems at a slam poetry contest, and begins to open up to the near public about her living situation. Xiomara goes through many highs and lows, but in the end, grows stronger by slowly growing the courage to have a voice.
This book was definitely a very fast read. It was written in verse as to mimic Xiomara’s poetry style and would often showcase some of the poems she had written. I finished it relatively quickly, in about 1-2 hours, but wasn’t really a big fan of the writing. I felt as if the writing made the book too fast paced, which really affected my enjoyment as some of the conflict and plot moved by way too fast in order for it to be memorable. Some of the conflict was supposed to hurt, and I could tell that the author was trying to make the reader hurt, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care just by how fast paced it was. I knew it would be over in an instant. I didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I wanted to be. The lack of words due to the writing style made it hard for the characters to be fully fleshed out, and ultimately made them very one dimensional. The author also had a problem with telling, and not showing. As an example, there would be instances where an author would write that a specific character was weak, but they didn’t explain specifically how they felt or make it believable. Don’t tell me that a character’s weak, show me that they’re weak, show me why they’re weak, show me what they’re gonna do about it. I felt as if the conflict near the ending was completely unrealistic. Things would go from completely toxic and destructive to what was portrayed as a ‘happy ending’. Needless to say, this wasn’t a bad book, but definitely not a good book.

adport1 Jul 15, 2020

I loved this book and Xiomara's journey to becoming the person that she wants to be. I haven't read many novels written in verse, but this one is fantastic.

Jun 29, 2020

The Poet X written by Elizabeth Acevedo is a young adult novel in verse about a sophomore girl in Harlem. Acevedo is a gifted teller of stories with a precise and captivating talent for word choice, pacing, tone and topic. She tells the story of X as X focuses on: her very religious mom, sexuality, high school, sharing her poetry, a gifted twin brother, the ugly ways ‘boys’ objectify her, having a secret boy friend, discovering slam poetry, and so much more. Her writing is so on the mark and assessable - it is not surprising that the work has been honored with the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Gina_Vee Apr 10, 2020

Not only is X Trinidadian American, but she reminds me of Bri from On The Come Up a little. I can't find a reason not to like this book.

JCLMirandaA Apr 07, 2020

A girl who feels silenced finds her voice through poetry in this novel in verse. Beautiful book that feels raw and real. This coming of age shows stark realities and all the differing and contradicting parts of people that make us human. In stories like this it’s very easy to straight up vilify the parents or whoever stands in the protagonist’s way of finding themselves, but Acevedo shows that in real life it’s harder to do that because we are all imperfect and also that we love imperfectly, even parents. Xiomara was such a rich beautiful character and I was so glad to know her and her story in her voice. I think a great introduction to novels in verse or to pique and interest in poetry. Alternatively, you can just merely savor the brilliant words and feel the emotional imprint of this coming of age journey.

PawsFurBooks Mar 12, 2020

Some books you read and you finish them knowing it was good writing and storytelling you just read. But then there are books like this one and you feel them in your heart and soul. They reverberate in your mind and force you to put the book down every so often because they are just so good and the emotional response you're having to it is so intense. I highly recommend for adults and teens alike. That's all I can write right now because my mind has not reconfigured from being blown.

JCLBetM Jan 08, 2020

A book in verse about a girl finding her voice through poetry? Yes, please. While coming-of-age stories aren't always my thing, this one has a raw, inspiring beauty to it that kept me reading. And some of the lines are so spot on, they require you to sit with them a little longer in appreciation.

Jan 01, 2020

Interesting book and great poetry. 👍🏻

It was sort of a roller coaster in cheering the main character on. She didn’t agree with her Catholic mother. Her mother was sort of the bad guy I in the story. Even though her mother was strict, I do not think that the Church deserves ( perhaps it does) the criticism and negativity that it got from this young character. It wasn’t direct, but it was there.
There were also a couple of decisions that she made that I didn’t agree with, kissing a guy you barely know, especially if he smokes, walking away from the church. I understand that those things can feel good and freeing.
I didn’t like how the book portrayed tinge idea that in life if you wanted to be a part of the church, it would be too much for you and eventually you would have to choose between love and literature. I wanted to scream: No! You can follow Christ AND have those things! Why is the Church seen as so restricting?

Other than these thoughts, I was a fool book. It made me think and it had great imagery and poetry. Lots of emotion. Also, it’s a thick book but a cohort read because it’s all poetry. 📝

Dec 08, 2019

I listened to this audio book which was read by the author Elizabeth Acevedo and it was phenomenal! Her style of writing was beautiful and they way her words flowed together was very heartfelt. She spoke about real things young ladies experience when our bodies develop in our teen years and men feel they can talk and treat us in certain ways. Just because the main character Xiomara had curves, did not mean she was fast (she was quite the opposite), she couldn't help the way her body was shaped. She did not take mess from anyone. I wish I had her courage and fierceness at that age. This book is full of beautifully flawed characters that made the story everything it needed to be. Definitely one of my favorites reads from 2019.

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Age Suitability

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Oct 07, 2019

blue_bat_668 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 06, 2019

AwesomeErin_07 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 04, 2019

pink_panda_1782 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 25

OPL_KrisC Jun 13, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Quote
Jun 16, 2020

heaving the words like weapons from my chest;
they're the only thing I can fight back with.

Apr 08, 2020

“And I think about all the things we could be
if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”


Add a Summary
Apr 04, 2019

Review: Note: The Poet X includes physical and religious abuse, sexual harassment, and references to homophobia.

One of the best things about a novel in verse is how immediate the character’s voice can feel. Xiomara is an outstanding character who is trying to figure out how to express herself and coming to terms with the fact that what her church teaches (and her mother staunchly believes) does not reflect the world as she sees it or the way she wants to live. She is sharp, witty, and always bracing for a fight, and some of my favorite poems are the contrasts between what she wants to say and what she actually feels she can say (e.g., her homework assignments).

The Poet X is a great coming of age story. Xiomara pretty much does it all—falling in love, questioning religion, clashing with family, finding an outlet for her passion, calling out rape culture and sexism—and good times and the bad help her discover who she truly is and what she believes. Xiomara discovering and falling in love with slam poetry while we’re reading her poetry is a beautiful experience. It made me want to pull up some of my favorite Sarah Kay videos (yes, I had a slam poetry phase in my 20s) and just put them on repeat.

Even without knowing author Elizabeth Acevedo’s impressive and extensive body of slam poetry work, her love for the form was clear throughout the book. And so was Xiomara’s. I loved every time Xiomara made it to the poetry club or interacted with the other members, especially Ms. Galiano. Women mentoring other women is one of my favorite things, and having this teacher repeatedly reach out to Xiomara and encourage her talents was honestly inspiring.

But Xiomara’s story isn’t just a steady upward climb of honing her poetic talents; it touches on several more difficult topics. She is keenly aware of how much rape culture permeates her life and how much her mother buys into it and into the church’s sexism. There are some awful, painful scenes where Xiomara is punished (or insulted) for her budding sexuality and religious doubt. While there is a mostly hopeful conclusion to some of this, it left me concerned that Xiomara had only really bought herself some breathing space with her mother. (But that’s my pessimistic self.)

The romantic relationship between Xiomara and Aman is very well done, and Aman is one of the many interesting supporting characters in the book. One of the best traits a romantic lead can have, in my opinion, is consistently demonstrating a desire to listen. When Xiomara felt like she had to be silent, Aman was there, encouraging her with her poetry. (Another excellent trait is knowing when to apologize and how to make up for doing wrong.) I was also very fond of Twin (Xiomara’s twin brother, Xavier) and Caridad, as well as Ms. Galiano.


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