Title: The Poet X
Author/Narrator: Elizabeth Acevedo
Audience: Young Adult
Length: ~3.5 hours (357 pages)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for Fans of: The House on Mango Street
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.
This is a beautifully written coming of age novel in verse exploring identity, religion, culture, gender, sexuality, family dynamics, and the power of poetry in finding your voice.
This was the first audiobook I listened to in June after realizing I needed to add more diversity to my reading choices. The audiobook is less than four hours, and it is narrated the author, making it incredibly powerful. Although brief, Xiomara’s story stuck with me, and it also helped me realize how much I miss reading poetry.