Xiomara Batista may not know exactly who she is, but she knows who she isn’t. She isn’t the devout, proper girl her traditional Dominican mother expects her to be. She isn’t the genius like her twin brother. She isn’t the quiet girl that her teachers would probably prefer. And she definitely isn’t whatever it is that the boys and men who catcall her expect either.
Xiomara is tough. She is a fighter. She is unapologetic. She may not believe in god–or at least not enough to complete her communion classes the way her mother wants. She might be falling for a boy for the first time. And, after discovering slam poetry in her English class, she is starting to realize that she is a poet in The Poet X (2018) by Elizabeth Acevedo.
The Poet X is Acevedo’s powerful debut (verse) novel. It is also a National Book Award and Printz award winner.
Individual poems come together to tell Xiomara’s story as she journals her way through a tumultuous year in high school as she tries to reconcile expectations placed upon her with the person she wants to become.
Familial conflict is tempered with a sweet romance and Xiomara’s journey from quiet observer to a poet ready to take center stage. Questions of faith and what it means to be devout are also constantly on Xiomara’s mind as she tries (and fails) to be the kind of Catholic girl her mother expects.
The Poet X is a fierce, engaging, feminist story that explores what it means to create and live on your own terms. Recommended.
Possible Pairings: Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali, Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll, A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhatena, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne, 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario, Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty, Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough, Pride by Ibi Zoboi