Reading The Poet X was like taking a stroll down memory lane, I could see images of my own past life growing up in New York City. The boys, the grown men staring at young girls, the praying mother, the being seen and not heard rules that carried itself everywhere because of your age.
The wanting to be understood but never actually being understood. Until you find that one thing that you love most (for me it was music and writing) that no one can take away, allowing it to consume you until it makes you stronger in other areas of your life. Whew chile, this novel was everything.
In The Poet X, we follow young Xiomara Batista, a Dominican wordsmith from Harlem who shares her world with us through her journal entries. In the beginning, I thought the journal style of writing would be hard to follow but I quickly realized that this was the only way it could have been written. Where else do you find the most honest parts of a teenage girl?
Xiomara is a girl who I would have been friends with in high school, she is the friend you make for life because you both know that you’re cut from a rare cloth. She’s honest, quiet, but her thoughts are bold and loud.
Her world is small, but her questions about life and God have grown beyond her mother’s prayers, her brother’s twin intuition, her best friends watchful eye, and her father’s nonchalant attitude.
Xiomara is trying to navigate a world where young girls of color with curves are not safe. She’s trying to live the life that was given to her while learning about life itself. Xiomara finds her voice by penning her thoughts in a notebook, she is also introduced to poetry and that changes everything.
Elizabeth Acevedo did an amazing job of weaving Dominican culture into the story, she also seamlessly weaved Spanish in. (I lowkey felt excited when I knew the Spanish words–I’m bilingual now, don’t debate me)
The writing is phenomenal, with each page you begin to see Xiomara grow a little bit more, with each chapter you root for each character in different ways. The poetry was just right, each time Xiomara showcased her art in her journal entries you know exactly how she feels. I’m a grown woman and I kept saying, “Girl, same” when she questioned religion and other societal norms.
This is a novel that you give to a young teenage girl. You give it to a parent (because they still don’t understand) and you read it yourself because sometimes you need a reminder that our young voices matter. Us grownups have a lot more in common with the youth than we realize.
I’m giving this book…
5 out of 5!
Sis, purchase the book, read it, and report back!