Read for Day-A-Thon November 2018 and Diverse December Reading Challenge.
TITLE: The Poet X
BY: Elizabeth Acevedo
GENRE: Poetry, Young Adult, Contemporary
PUBLICATION: March 6th 2018 by Hardie Grant Egmont
…in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard but unable to hide ever since her body grew into curves. So she learned to use her fists and her fierceness to do the talking. But she has plenty to say and she found a way through writing poetry. And with her mother forcing her to obey the laws of the church, she knows that her thoughts are better kept to herself. It becomes even harder when she developed feeling for a boy in her bio class. But she can’t stop her poems that she even risked disobeying her mother for it by joining her school’s slam poetry club.
This is a story of a young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world.
I love everything about this book except for two points I will talk about later.
First, let me tell you about Xiomara. She’s one strong, compelling character. She knows what she wants and see nothing wrongs with it. She makes choices and questions when the people around her and the society she’s in label it as wrong. I love her voice and through her poems, she told us things that really moved me in a way so intimate and raw. So raw. So vivid. So beautiful. This book deals with strong and serious issues like abuse, harassment, sexual culture, forced religious beliefs and there’s more. These issues are so alarming and I think these should be read by many. So relatable. Especially for teens like Xiomara.
And oh, this book kinda reminds me of Elanor and Park. First love and all that. 🙂
Now to the two points, I want to talk about. First, the story is literally made of poems written by one character, Xiomara. We have stories in first person POVs too but when words are written in poetry, it’s a bit different. Poems are so good at telling emotions, but not really as much in telling a novel. There is a story but it comes to a point where it comes near as predictable. It wasn’t really bad, it’s just not that packed.
Second, since this is told through poems and only by Xiomara, it’s understandable everything is limited. There are so many other great characters but I didn’t get enough of them. At the end of the story, they seemed underdeveloped and lacking. Also, I think it’s a little unfair for Xio’s mother that I didn’t read/hear her sides. Xio’s mother is deeply rooted to her culture and religion that really, we can’t easily blame her. EPrsonally, I hate religion and church being forced to someone, doesn’t matter if I’m a devout Christian, i’m against forcing others to religion. But how many times have we, ourselves, said that we should respect other people’s beliefs and culture, so when it comes to Xio’s mother, I can’t decide what to feel. I wish there’s a more fleshed out version of this book just so I can know the other characters more.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. Just beware of the triggers I mentioned earlier. This is a very compelling and empowering novel I’m glad I got a hold of.