The Poet X

The Poet X

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Harlem. Ever since her body grew into curves, Xiomara Batista has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. 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. Mami is determined to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, and Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. When she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she can't stop thinking about performing her poems.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062662804
Branch Call Number: ACE
Characteristics: 361 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

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... Read More »

From the critics

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Chapel_Hill_SharonD Sep 27, 2019

This book (especially in audio!) is compelling and powerful. It provides an emotional view of both Xiomara's raw inner world and the struggles she faces in the world at large as a teen pressed between cultures and expectations. She is trying desperately to find her voice and to be heard, and the verses are mesmerizing. I am not one who generally chooses the book-in-verse format, but I loved this one. And if you can get it in audio, the experience of being there is complete.

STPL_JessH Sep 12, 2019

Well, I don't mind telling you that I cried at the end of this book. I LOVED IT! There is power in the word: every single word Acevedo writes and even more power in those she speaks. Obviously I LOVED the audiobook.

I feel like there is a reckoning in those final lines that contains joy and wonder and strength and pain. There is a depth to Acevedo's work that I cannot believe she is able to sustain over such a period of pages! A novel in poetry is a rare and wondrous feat.

Acevedo performs this novel with emotion and heart and pain and love. She uses silence as a tool and so the white space of the poems is communicated to the listener without a need for translation from page to sound. She writes her themes into the plot in a really admirable way. Forgiveness becomes an act, a theme, an abstract ghost hanging over the words, and perhaps a kind of quest narrative that may or may not be realized.

Acevedo writes so many different types of misunderstood. No character is definable by a single word. They are complex, multilayered, flawed, beautiful people trying to make sense of the situations they confront. I love how bravely Acevedo writes Xiomara's struggles and feelings around her body. I love the acknowledgement of how difficult it is to be constantly seen as curves instead of creativity. Mostly, I love that Acevedo is careful and consistent in the presentation of Xiomara's struggles with her body as the result of those surrounding her. Nothing about Xiomara or her body is wrong. She is constantly told that she is wrong by strangers and their looks, or the words of family members. She is constantly told how to restrain herself (body, mind, soul) and her breaking free is neither simple nor complete. Not very many YA novels present this difficult trial with nuance or grace and Acevedo manages both.

I find this book stunning. Absolutely stunning.

Sep 08, 2019

This book is amazing. The Author took her time writing this book, it is definitely a page turner. She paints vivid pictures of each scene. The reader feels like he/she knows the characters. She is a great writer and the book is awesome.

Jul 07, 2019

For those who see themselves reflected in this book, for those who are living the life of the character in this book, this book must be amazing. However, I personally failed to see myself reflected in this girl and thus did not particularly gain much from it.

Jun 06, 2019

This amazing book by Elizabeth Acevedo shows, not tells, us about Xiomara, who is a complicated character, who we can easily relate to. I, thankfully, don’t have a fear about speaking aloud in front of people about my work. Xiomara, unfortunately, does, which is relatable to others for sure.
I would suggest this book for people who are stuck in their cultural box, and wants to find the way out of the taping. I LOVE this book, was sad when I finished it. I read it over and over again, never visualizing the same thing.
I highly recommend this book. It has reasons to why it’s won like a million awards.

kobrien3 Jun 03, 2019

A quick and powerful read, The Poet X delivers a beautifully raw coming of age story that is as joyful as it is heart wrenching. I listened to the audiobook and was blown away by Elizabeth Acevedo's narration -- a must listen if you're into spoken word poetry!

dplSami May 28, 2019

A coming of age through clashing cultures and family traditions makes for a powerful story; told through verse makes it incredibly unique.

JCLTiffanyR Apr 19, 2019

The Poet X has won multiple awards and for good reason. It's a powerful novel with a strong, yet vulnerable female voice. Told in free verse, this is a lightning-fast read with some serious depth. Xiomara Batista feels stifled by her religious mother, who resents her for her bodacious curves that suggest sin. Poetry is Xiomara's outlet and what a powerful outlet it is. You'll root for Xiomara to find her voice as the Poet X.

OPL_MichelleC Apr 11, 2019

When I finished National Book Award winner The Poet X, I felt chills. Powerful, descriptive narrative poetry that details a story of first love, family, and religion. I was awed, shocked, warmed, saddened, angered, and calmed.

VaughanPLKim Apr 10, 2019

I'm not usually a fan of poetry or reading novels in verse, but I really enjoyed this book. Xiomara is such a well-written character and her voices really shines through in her poetry. Her struggle to be who she wants to be rather than who her parents want her to be is one that many teens will relate to.

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Age Suitability

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Oct 07, 2019

blue_bat_668 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 06, 2019

AwesomeErin_07 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 04, 2019

pink_panda_1782 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 25

OPL_KrisC Jun 13, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Apr 04, 2019

Review: Note: The Poet X includes physical and religious abuse, sexual harassment, and references to homophobia.

One of the best things about a novel in verse is how immediate the character’s voice can feel. Xiomara is an outstanding character who is trying to figure out how to express herself and coming to terms with the fact that what her church teaches (and her mother staunchly believes) does not reflect the world as she sees it or the way she wants to live. She is sharp, witty, and always bracing for a fight, and some of my favorite poems are the contrasts between what she wants to say and what she actually feels she can say (e.g., her homework assignments).

The Poet X is a great coming of age story. Xiomara pretty much does it all—falling in love, questioning religion, clashing with family, finding an outlet for her passion, calling out rape culture and sexism—and good times and the bad help her discover who she truly is and what she believes. Xiomara discovering and falling in love with slam poetry while we’re reading her poetry is a beautiful experience. It made me want to pull up some of my favorite Sarah Kay videos (yes, I had a slam poetry phase in my 20s) and just put them on repeat.

Even without knowing author Elizabeth Acevedo’s impressive and extensive body of slam poetry work, her love for the form was clear throughout the book. And so was Xiomara’s. I loved every time Xiomara made it to the poetry club or interacted with the other members, especially Ms. Galiano. Women mentoring other women is one of my favorite things, and having this teacher repeatedly reach out to Xiomara and encourage her talents was honestly inspiring.

But Xiomara’s story isn’t just a steady upward climb of honing her poetic talents; it touches on several more difficult topics. She is keenly aware of how much rape culture permeates her life and how much her mother buys into it and into the church’s sexism. There are some awful, painful scenes where Xiomara is punished (or insulted) for her budding sexuality and religious doubt. While there is a mostly hopeful conclusion to some of this, it left me concerned that Xiomara had only really bought herself some breathing space with her mother. (But that’s my pessimistic self.)

The romantic relationship between Xiomara and Aman is very well done, and Aman is one of the many interesting supporting characters in the book. One of the best traits a romantic lead can have, in my opinion, is consistently demonstrating a desire to listen. When Xiomara felt like she had to be silent, Aman was there, encouraging her with her poetry. (Another excellent trait is knowing when to apologize and how to make up for doing wrong.) I was also very fond of Twin (Xiomara’s twin brother, Xavier) and Caridad, as well as Ms. Galiano.


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