THE POET X
By Elizabeth Acevedo • Jacket art by Gabriel Moreno
Young Adult (ages 13 & up) • 365 pages
Harper Teen, HarperCollins Publishers • 2018
Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award
At 15, Xiomara knows what it’s like to be “unhideable.” She is tall, womanly, and suffers the comments, stares and occasional grab by the men and boys in her neighborhood. Xiomara means “one who is ready for war,” but she is struggling to find her place between her Dominican Republic Mami’s religious expectations and the desires she doesn’t dare give voice to. Instead, she pours her words into a notebook where they are safe, waiting to be heard.
A new teacher sees what is hidden in X and invites her to join the Spoken Word Poetry Club. But the timing conflicts with her confirmation classes at the church, and regardless, X’s mother would never understand. A random assignment in Bio class brings a boy into her life who pulls X out of her silence and listens. But this boy also makes her mother’s worst fears real, and X has to risk letting her warrior voice out in order to survive.
This breath-taking, exhilarating novel in verse is filled with emotion and finds the bottomless heart of every girl caught in the space between her parent’s wishes and her truest self. Every award it has won is deeply deserved.
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Reviewed by: Laurie L. Young