Elizabeth Acevedo is truly one of THE voices of her generation. Her fiction captivates with its rich language, believable characters, and storylines that pull you in and let you experience the characters’ world. I’m so glad that I listened to her fine audio performance of The Poet X–for now, I prefer her writing on audio, especially if she is the performer.
“But one thing I learned from the Saints, when the crossroads are open to you, you must decide a path. I will not stand still while the world makes my choices.”
“Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?”
Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her Grandmother, enjoying life with far greater material comfort than her neighbors’ thanks to her father’s job in New York. The highlight of her year is her father’s annual summer visit. Yahaira, the same age as Camino, lives in New York, where she is a school chess champion, coached, and encouraged by her father. Both girls are robbed of the security of a father’s love by a plane crash–the plane taking Camino’s father home for his summer visit.
There are secrets, angst, fear, danger, and grief–but also love in this story. The girls are so vulnerable–on the cusp of womanhood, needing that man in their life to guide them. Losing him at the wrong moment. When the tragedy brings the girls together, what will happen to their dreams? Their families? Will this meeting alter their lives for good or bad?
There is a single-sex romance in this book which I thought was fine given the target age group. Some reviewers have been less than happy with this. There is also an attempted sexual assault.
I felt so emotional once the plane crash occurred. The start of the book was choppier and less well written than her previous books, but as the story developed so did the language. Camino and Yahaira are modern, believable high school girls. Young people reading this book will relate well to them.
Personally, this story took me back to the ways men deceived women in Southern Africa when I was in the Peace Corps. But this story is viewed through the eyes of two girls who have always looked up to a good and kind “Daddy.” It is ok for them to love a flawed father unconditionally, well, at least until the plane crash releases its load of secrets.
My Reviews of Elizabeth Acevedo’s other books: