Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Epic Reads.
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.
“Their gazes are words are heavy with all the things they want you to be.”
“It is ungrateful to feel like a burden. It is ungrateful to resent my own birth.”
“….she should be remembered as always working to become the warrior she wanted to be.”
“If I were nothing but dust would anyone chase the wind trying to piece me back together?”
The Poet X is a compelling young adult novel written about the challenges faced by a young Xiomara. In a world that never hears her, she must find her voice and speak up. Xiomara and her twin brother are seen as their parent’s gift from God. Her parent’s struggled to have children, and the twins were their miracle. The two have to live up to the high expectations of their mother and the lack of awareness from their father.
Growing up in a Catholic household, Xiomara is taught not only the ways of her Catholic mother. She is continuously scolded when she breaks any rules. She learns to explore her feelings for the opposite sex while trying not to get caught. She experiences her first love, shares her first kiss, and hides a secret about her brother. Mami continues to put immense pressure on Xiomara, expecting her uphold to a high set of standards or be punished. X continues to be exploited solely for her looks instead of for her intelligence or words. Her only place of solace in the poetry club at her school. Her English teacher encourages her to apply for the poetry slam in the upcoming months. Xiomara expresses her feelings through her poetry until one day she goes mute after a terrible thing between her and her mother. Can she ever forgive her mother? Will her mother ever accept her? How long can she keep Twin’s secret?
Overall, I thought this was a great novel, and I enjoyed the relationship between Xiomara and her English teacher. I like the concept that teachers have a significant influence on students. It is always great to read about teachers encouraging their students. I think the author did a great job with the writing of this book and I enjoyed the poetry format. I felt more connected with each character as the emotions were eloquently displayed. I recommend this book to young adults between the ages of thirteen and up. I had a teen ask about poetry books recently, and I suggested this book.
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