The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo | Book Review

★★★★☆
June 24th – 26th

When I was in my senior year of high school, I had poetry first thing in the morning. All of my best friends were in the class, and it was taught by an English teacher who also did the choreography for the school musicals. I felt safe in this class, and for the first time in my 16-year-old life, I felt my writing really told a story and did something. I wrote a lot of poems in that class. I’m sure a lot of them were awkward, or cringe-worthy, and if I were to read them back now I’m sure I’d slam the cover shut and put the notebook away.

The Poet X follows the story of Xiomara, a girl growing up in Harlem under a strict and religious mother who just wants to express herself. The entire book is written in verse, through Xiomara’s eyes as she navigates first relationships, feeling guilty towards her parents, wanting to do poetry, and wanting to be able to be proud of it.

Though my high school experience was not nearly as strict or as intense, I really connected with this character. In this book I saw a lot of the same emotions and internal struggles that I felt that senior year of high school, and I felt very attached to this book, in a way I haven’t felt about a Young Adult book in a long time. I wish that 16-year-old me could have had this book, because I think it would have meant a lot to me at that time.

One of the best parts of this book was listening to the audiobook. I tried reading it a while ago, but since several lines and sometimes entire poems are in Spanish I felt disconnected. Hearing Acevedo read the poems herself made a huge difference, and I think that’s the best way for this to be heard. Acevedo came out with another book this year, which I’ll definitely be adding to my TBR in the future.

-Siobhan

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