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.
This is the first verse novel that I have read this year. Every page makes me want to nod my head to show how every part seems relatable or somehow understandable to me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m reading a part of my life through this book, and I feel nostalgic about how some words reminds me of some happy and hurtful past. In this book, you will discover how Xiomara was raised by a family who imposed strict rules and sees religion a vital part of their life. How every move of her has bad feedbacks from her mother. How she can’t freely do something, she wanted. How writing saves her from hating her life because it is what will change her life since she discovers the slam poetry club.
I admire how the author makes me like this novel. I have read a solid and moving read. There is something to learn about her in every turn of the pages. Something to learn not just about herself but also about the family she lived with, the people around her, and the issues that until now still exist. After reading it, I agree that her experiences really do happen, but some were only ignored or not entirely taken seriously by some people. This book also discusses in-depth topics that everyone should be aware of.
The way it was written added more enjoyable moment for me to read it. Unlike the traditional way of writing stories, this one was written in poetry style. So, the time it took me to finish, this is only a few hours. But! In that few hours, every part of this book gives a significant impact on me, especially I, somehow, relate to her story. Also, when I was reading it, it was like someone was just telling me their stories as if that talking person is in front of me.
This is really a great read, I’m telling you. I really recommend that you read this if you want to know or to feel what I experienced in reading this book. If you are a woman, read this. If you are someone who grew up in a strict and religion-centered family, you better have a copy of this book. And if you happen to become intrigued by this book, then you really should have this as your next read.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from HarperCollins through Karina of Afire Pages.
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry
ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is the youngest child and only daughter of Dominican immigrants. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over fourteen years of performance poetry experience, Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion, Cave Canem Fellow, CantoMundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has two collections of poetry, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and winner of the 2016 Berkshire Prize, Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm (Tupelo Press, forthcoming). The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC.