The Poet X

by Elizabeth Acevedo (Author)

The Poet X
Reading Level: 8th − 9th Grade

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award!

Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

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. But she still 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.

"Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice." --Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation

"An incredibly potent debut." --Jason Reynolds, author of the National Book Award Finalist Ghost

"Acevedo has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero." --Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Harlem sophomore Xiomara Batista isn't saintly like her virtuous twin brother. And her tough exterior--she's always ready to fend off unwelcome advances and unkind words--hides questions and insecurities. As her confirmation nears (after two failed attempts), Xiomara begins to voice her uncertainties about the Catholic faith and patriarchal piety pressed on her by her mother and the church. Both intrigued and disgusted by the advances of her peers and older men, she begins a secret relationship with her lab partner Aman, who seems interested in more than her curves ("who knew words, / when said by the right person, / by a boy who raises your temperature, / moves heat like nothing else?"). Xiomara pours her innermost self into poems and dreams of competing in poetry slams, a passion she's certain her conservative Dominican parents will never accept. Debut novelist Acevedo's free verse gives Xiomara's coming-of-age story an undeniable pull, its emotionally charged bluntness reflecting her determination and strength. At its heart, this is a complex and sometimes painful exploration of love in its many forms, with Xiomara's growing love for herself reigning supreme. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 7 Up--Magnificently crafted, Acevedo's bildungsroman in verse is a stunning account of a teen girl's path to poetry. Sophomore Xiomara Batista is simultaneously invisible and hyper visible at home, at school, and in her largely Dominican community in Harlem--her body is "unhide-able" she tells readers early on, and she bristles at how others project their desires, insecurities, failures, and patriarchal attitudes toward her. Though she is quick to battle and defend herself and her twin brother Xavier, Xiomara's inner life sensitively grapples with these projections and the expectations of her strict, religious mother. Acevedo's depiction of a faith in crisis is exceedingly relatable and teens, especially those going through the sacrament of Confirmation, will deeply appreciate Xiomara's thoughtful questioning of the Church and how it treats women. Forbidden kisses with a crush and an impromptu performance at an open mic prove to be euphoric, affirming moments for Xiomara: "it's beautiful and real and what I wanted." Acevedo's poetry is skillfully and gorgeously crafted, each verse can be savored on its own, but together they create a portrait of a young poet sure to resonate with readers long after the book's end. VERDICT Truly a "lantern glowing in the dark" for aspiring poets everywhere. All YA collections will want to share and treasure this profoundly moving work.--Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The Poet X is beautiful and true—a splendid debut."—School Library Journal (starred review)
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780062662811
Lexile Measure
800
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Quill Tree Books
Publication date
April 20, 2020
Series
-
BISAC categories
YAF044000 - Young Adult Fiction | Novels in Verse
YAF058260 - Young Adult Fiction | Social Themes | Values & Virtues
YAF011000 - Young Adult Fiction | Coming of Age
YAF046140 - Young Adult Fiction | People & Places | United States - Hispanic & Latino
YAF058100 - Young Adult Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
Library of Congress categories
-

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