Elizabeth Acevedo’s novel-in-verse, The Poet X, is an empowering, feminist tale of a young woman discovering her own voice through writing—and then learning to use it as boldly and best she can to push back against everything aiming to drag her down. Though The Poet X is Acevedo’s debut, she’s already made a name for herself through her two collections of poetry and electrifying spoken-word performances that have made her a National Slam Champion.
Xiomara Batista, though only 15 years old, quickly learns that she’s been both blessed and cursed with the body and the problems of a grown woman. As an Afro-Latina girl and the daughter of Dominican immigrants growing up in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, she discovers at a young age just what men’s catcalls and compliments really mean. So she first learns to fight back with her fists, but then she uses those same hands to quietly craft powerful poems in her notebook.
With wise eyes and incisive words, Xiomara dives head first into the tough topics like complicated family dynamics and parental abuse, body shaming and acceptance, the burdens of an overbearing religion, and finding both self-love and romantic love. When her teacher invites her to join the school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara is torn between remaining as the obedient daughter who attends the Catholic confirmation classes that her regimented mother has forced upon her and practicing an art and craft that is opening her heart to love and personal growth.