Blurb: Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. In her Harlem neighbourhood, her fists and fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets. Her feelings for a boy in her bio class, the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed – and a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.
Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publisher: Electric Monkey, an imprint of Egmont UK, by arrangement with Harper Collin’s Children’s Books
Genre: Fiction, Slam Poetry, YA, Contemporary
Xiomara has a lot to say but no way to truly say it. Until she discovers a love of slam poetry that allows her to express herself fully and finds a way to use her voice. But her mother doesn’t share the same appreciation. Can Xiomara find a way to be true to herself while still connecting with her family?
There was so much that I loved about this book! There’s been a real trend in using slam poetry, or poetry more generally, for middle grade and YA books and I’m most definitely here for it! The Poet X is a fantastic example of this trend and Acevedo uses this format wonderfully. Even without the lengthy descriptions of people and places, I still felt like I was right there in the story, experiencing everything alongside Xiomara. The words in this book were still packed with emotion and told the story of growing up as a person of colour – it is undeniably a powerful read. The characters in this book all felt real, with everyday hang ups and we get to see a main character who really shows her vulnerability. The story itself covers more than just growing up as a person of colour – we get to see blossoming sexuality, questioning of religion, family problems and body acceptance. All of these topics in YA are bound to raise discussions amongst readers which works to normalise all of these things.
I’d also note that this story is really readable and can be read fairly quickly which I always like and means that it’s a good book to dip into when time allows. For me, I sat down with the aim of reading a little bit and ended up going for half of the book! The format reminded me a little of the Barrington Stoke books (even thought they’re not slam poetry) so I’d also recommend this book to any reluctant readers.
As for what I disliked, there wasn’t anything of note! Even as someone who admittedly dips in and out of poetry, I wasn’t put off by the story being told this way and instead thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re someone who’s put off from picking up this book because of its format, I urge you to go ahead and give it a try anyway – you just might be surprised.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to absolutely everyone. Whether you’re already a fan of poetry or not, this book is a must read for all ages – especially if you’re currently looking to widen your TBR to include the works and experiences of Black authors.
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!