Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo



Thank you to Browsing For Books for bring this book to my attention.

The Story

Xiomara Batista, twin sister to brother Xavier (aka “Twin”) is growing up in Harlem under a very strict immigrant mother intent on her raising daughter in step with the manners and morals of the Dominican Republic and a very traditional view of Catholicism. X, however, is trying to obey her parents, but be a decent American teenager. She studies, does chores, but wants to date. She is in high school and that is the norm in her world. Her frustration, ready to destroy her, finds its “out” in poetry. She fills the notebook her brother gives her with her mighty words–“Metaphoric legos.”

My Thoughts

“We’re different, this poet and I. In looks, in body,
in background. But I don’t feel so different
when I listen to her. I feel heard.”
(The Poet X)

SLAM!! I LOVED this book! I was concerned when one blurb mentioned religion–“Here we go…” I thought. But, no! X is merely a normal teen, questioning things in a normal way. She butts up against her mother’s very traditional Catholic faith. [Yes, she does one thing that would appall very traditional Catholics, but it is not anything you’d ever immediately think of!] X works hard in school, she wants to do well.

She sets and enforces boundaries with the boy she likes out of respect both for herself and for her parents. She is not out to reject anything just to reject it. And, the Church? Interestingly, the Priest is a very good man and does his job well. This is not a tale of abuse of any kind. For once, it is not a miracle scholarship, nor a chance meeting with a celebrity nor atheletics that “saves” the teen, either. [No spoilers].

This book is SUPERB. Slam! Slam!! Slam!!!

My Experience

I have a child who also found a voice in poetry/rap lyrics. It helped so much. This quote IS my child at X’s age:

“…music videos…I fell in love with Nick Minaj, J Cole, with Drake and Kanye, with old school rappers like Jay Z and Nas and Eve. Every day I searched for new songs and it was like applying for asylum. I just needed someone to help me escape from all the silence. I just needed people saying words about all the things that hurt them. Maybe this is why Poppy quit listening to music. Because it can make your body want to rebel, to speak up and…music can become a bridge between you and a total stranger.”


The Rapper Nas by PH 2009. Copyright protected–do not copy.

I wish this book had been around in 2009. What a better year my child would have had!

My Verdict

4.5 Stars

And get the audio for this one–it is so worth it! The author is a fabulous performer.

The Poet X: A Novel by Elizabeth Acevedo  


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