The Poet X | Book Review #23

Hey everyone!

Guess what? I just finished my first audiobook last week. I’m still not sold to the idea of listening to books because I love actively reading a book, but I gave it a shot last week and I enjoyed it. It was mostly because the narrator was outstanding and the slam poetry had my full attention. I don’t know if I can put into words all the thoughts I had whilst listening to this audiobook, so thought of reviewing this book like I used to before.

About the Book

Title: The Poet X • By: Elizabeth Acevedo

Published on: 06 March 2018   • By: Harper Audio (Harper Collins)

Pace: Fast • Pages: 388 • Age: 12 and up

StandaloneGenre: YA

Song: Old Insecurities by Wiona Oak

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.


Rep: Xiomara (mc)- Dominican American ,Plus Size; Xavier- Gay; Father Sean- Jamaican; Aman- Trinidadian

Reading an Acevedo book is a lot different than listening to her reading the book. I had both the audiobook and ebook by my side whilst listening to this audiobook because I’m not used to listening to books and I wanted to underline the passages and lines that I loved in the book. That being said, this book was more intense compared to With the Fire on High. It is on a whole new level than WtFoH.

This book is written in the form of slam poetry. I highly recommend you to listen to this book rather than reading it. The verse was simply terrific to listen. The last few chapters were breathtaking and the emotions that flowed in each verse was vivid and moving.

Sometimes the line between Xiomara and Acevedo would blur. I would forget it was poetry and just when I get used to the prose it’d switch gears back to haiku or poetry.

Xiomara was fierce, vulnerable, delicate, tired, and done with the world. For a 15 year old, she was passionate, trying so hard to be heard and seen for who she was.

Her only escape was poetry. The first journal she received was from her twin, Xavier. She would always call him Twin, so I’m going to stick to that as well. He was a contrast to her in appearance and behaviour. She would let her emotions get the best of her but he’d be calm and composed even in a storm; that’s how different they were. Their relationship was strained but they had each other’s back.

Xiomara was unhappy with her life and seeked things that she was not supposed to want. All she dreamt was about living a normal life instead of attending mass and preparing to be a nun.

Her mother wanted her and Twin to take the scarament of confirmation but she was not ready.

One of the main topics in the book was about how X’s mom imposed her beliefs and faith on her kids. She wanted to become a nun but couldn’t so she wanted her kids – who were a gift to her in old age – to fulfill her dreams. There was a no dating and kissing rule implemented and they didn’t follow it, of course.

But X being a teenager wanted to experience love and the world like any other teenager. She know she can’t be in a relationship with Aman but nevertheless need his love and shoulder to lean on. It was not like she committed a big crime but her mom actually beats and punishes her when she caught her kissing Aman in the train.

X’s mom was too strict to her kids and was an orthodox person. Her punishments were harsh and went too far at times. She’d use her faith to justify her actions.

X’s father was absent for the most part of the novel. He was present in the novel but was phantom. He wouldn’t stop his wife when she beat her kids or be there for them. Only in the end did he do something worthwhile to remember.

One of the things I’ve noticed in Acevedo’s novels is that she always has a teacher character who would help the main character to follow their dreams or be a supportive figure for the characters. In this one, there was Ms. Galiano who would encourage X to write poems and join the poetry club. She pushed X to read her poems and that’s when X knew how much she loved slam poetry.

X would have at least 2-3 drafts when she wrote Ms. Galiano’s assignments. It was nice reading about what went into the final assignment because there was a lot comtemplation and honesty that went into her drafts, which her teacher didn’t get to read but we as readers do.

Whenever X would perform her poems, it’d totally change her. She was so immersed in the act and her emotions would pour in each line and verse. Listening to this was such an incredible experience because I could hear the vehemence of X’s words. It was raw, painful, delicate, and yet strong.

Overall, I loved listening to this book. The Poet X is lyrical, poignant, and splendid. Xiomara’s voice was heard through her poems. She questioned her faith and followed her own path. When she does follow her heart, problems accompany her and reality sets in. Slam poetry was the most alluring part of this novel, and I definitely recommend this book to everyone.

I had to take one star from this book because I wanted to see X’s mom make up for how harsh she was to her daughter. The reconciliation part was brief and short but it’d have made the book perfect if there were a few chapters dedicated to show the new bond between them. But other than that, The Poet X is such a remarkable book.

I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
TW // Body Shaming, slut shaming, sexualt harrassment, absentee parent, religious abuse by parents
About the Author

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. She is also the author of With the Fire on High—which was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal—and Clap When You Land, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book and a Kirkus finalist.

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.

Have you read this novel or is it on your TBR? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have.Think of what you can do with that there is”

— Ernest Hemmingway

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