Goodreads: The Poet X
Xiomara Batista no longer knows where she belongs. She wants to date, to write poetry, to do all the things her Mami believes are wrong. But is it really so wrong to want to kiss a boy? Is wrong to want your voice to be heard? A novel-in-verse.
“I will never let anyone see my full heart and destroy it.”
Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X is a powerful story about finding one’s voice, and finding one’s place in the world. Xiomara Batista has been struggling to embrace herself ever since she grew into curves. The boys at school assume she’s easy, ask for pictures, and help themselves to a grab. Her Mami keeps praying that the evil inside her body will not prevail. And the Catholic Church? Well, going to Mass and attending to Confirmation class just reaffirms to Xiomara that women are bad, and so is her body. Xiomara can’t help but wonder–is it really so wrong to be interested in boys? To want her first kiss? Is she really wrong, just for existing? Poetry helps her find her way through the muddle of high school. But Xiomara is convinced no one is listening–not to her poetry, not to her words, not to her. A novel-in-verse, The Poet X will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.
Not every author is adept at capturing what it feels like to be growing up, what it feels like to be a teen, in high school, to have a changing body, to wonder where you belong if the places you used to belong no longer welcome you. But Elizabeth Acevedo has a created a protagonist who feels like she could be real, so vividly does she capture all of Xiomara’s hopes and fears and dreams and struggles. Xiomara has questions, but she does not have anyone she trusts to answer them. And so, she tries to figure out what it means to be in transition–no longer a child but not yet an adult–all by herself. Her story is heartbreaking.
Xiomara’s story touches on so many important issues: bodily autonomy and rape culture, the tension between parental expectations and the teenage desire for independence, the ability to question religion and one’s worldview, the universal longing to be seen and to be heard. Trying to embrace so many themes could potentially be overwhelming, but Acevedo deftly weaves them into an interlocking whole, all told in her signature powerful verse. In her verse, we hear Xiomara roar.
Elizabeth Acevedo is a rising star in the YA world, and The Poet X shows off her talent with verse, as well as her ability to create a compelling storyline led by a teenage protagonist, beautiful in all her messy humanity. Anyone looking for an unforgettable read, a powerful contemporary YA, or a novel-in-verse with expressive, vivid poetry will love The Poet X.