Book review: The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
Reviewed by Angie Webb, Library Clerk
Oh, how I wish I had a book like this in my teen years growing up in Brooklyn, NY. The story tackles many pressing topics – love, questions of faith, sexuality, sexual harassment and body shaming, friendship, homophobia, self-acceptance – through Harlem native, Xiomara Batista, known as X. The novel’s epistolary-like structure makes the free-verse narration a gripping, quick read without making the verse gimmicky. And the compelling vulnerability and empowering passion of its young protagonist gives voice to the inner struggle of obedience to family and religious tradition with the anxiety of finding strength with self-discovery through the rebellion of young love and slam poetry.
The relationships between X and her family and friends are authentic. I enjoyed how the story presented the Dominican culture of the Batista family through the eyes of someone unashamed of her heritage but wants to experience it differently from the tradition. X is relatable, I felt her struggles, I had her struggles, and like her, I wrote them down. Acevedo captured the teen voice with honesty that many young Hispanic-American girls know. She writes from the heart and gives the Hispanic/Latin community a real voice.
2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
2019 Carnegie Medal
2019 Golden Kite Award for Young Adult Fiction