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The Poet X

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Poetry (2018)
Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

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. But she still 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.

368 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 6, 2018

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About the author

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO is a New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X, With the Fire on High, and Clap When You Land. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Poet X, won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. She is also the recipient of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award. Additionally, she was honored with the 2019 Pure Belpré Author Award for celebrating, affirming, and portraying Latinx culture and experience.

Her books include, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes 2016), The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018), & With The Fire On High (HarperCollins, 2019), and Clap When You Land (HarperCollins, 2020).

She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo has been a fellow of Cave Canem, Cantomundo, and a participant in the Callaloo Writer’s Workshops. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion, and resides in Washington, DC with her love.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 20,398 reviews
Profile Image for Tomi Adeyemi.
Author 7 books18.8k followers
January 25, 2018
#ThePoetX was so beautiful that I didn’t want to highlight it or dog ear pages, so I just took pictures basically every page

This was the type of book where “I’ll just do 50 pages” turned into finishing it in 2 reads

I felt very emotional reading this book, not just because the story and the words themselves were so beautiful, but because I knew it was going to make so many teens who felt like no one cares about them or listens to them feel seen.

I also knew that if I had had books like this or Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds as a kid, I wouldn’t have taken me until the age of 17 to realize I loved reading and writing

Can’t say enough good things about these books, everyone should pre-order and read it! It’s out 3/6/18!!
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,988 reviews298k followers
May 27, 2019
“And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

4½ stars. Wow, this was so good.

I recently read Acevedo's With the Fire on High and I found it to be sweet and enjoyable, but I felt like a little something was held back. Like the book played it too safe and didn't really excite me. It was feel-good, and that's just fine, but if I'm being honest I'm a bit of a drama llama. 🦙

This book, though. This book is heart-wrenching and powerful. Acevedo should most definitely continue writing poetry as it seems to be where she excels, and it comes as no surprise to hear she had a background in poetry slams. Xiomara's voice felt so real, so vulnerable and painfully honest as she talks about growing up as a curvy girl in Harlem - the whispers of "cuero" follow her around even before she's even had chance to figure out her own sexuality.

The Poet X is a bildungsroman, of sorts, about a girl becoming aware of her own body and sexuality. This takes her through a complex range of emotions-- desire, shame, fear, anger, doubt, and pleasure, all rendered beautifully and effectively on the page.

Religion also plays a huge part. Xiomara clashes with her devout mother and this leads to some truly horrifying parts of the story. In fact, I think the only downside was the way this was resolved. Certain things seemed too neat for my tastes and certain people seemed to change quickly in a way that wasn't quite believable to me . I was glad, though, that the author took some steps towards portraying her mother as more than some stereotypical crazy religious harpy.

{On a side note-- this type of character fascinates me: the woman who loves her god more than her children. She's appeared in everything from coming-of-age tales like this one to horror stories like Carrie. I don't understand her, but I would like to read a book from her perspective. I imagine it would take a brave author to attempt to humanize her. I wonder if it would be successful...}

This free verse, non-rhyming style of poetry is hit and miss for me. Many times I am left feeling as if I've just read chopped up prose or a selection of tumblr quotes, and I can't quite understand why they bother writing it as poetry at all. This was not one of those cases. Acevedo creates very powerful scenes and moments with this style, that I think might have been lost in a regular prose novel. The short, sharp, hard-hitting nature of the poems made each one a knife into my heart.

I mean that in a good way.

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
January 7, 2019
This was a surprising read for me!! I do not read poetry, nor do I typically like it, therefore I have avoided reading books in verse for years. I decided to pick up the audiobook from my library just because it was so short, but I’m so pleased I gave it a chance. This is a story absolutely everyone should experience.

CW: sexism/misogyny, homophobia, slut-shaming, abuse, sexual assault/harassment

I would HIGHLY recommend the audio version of this novel. I don’t have an experience with the physical novel to compare it to, but Elizabeth Acevedo does a fantastic job of performing her novel. The passion for her writing and the power behind her words comes through so strongly by listening. Plus, it’s only about 4 hours and is extremely easy to fall into. You will DEVOUR this audiobook.

The writing is INCREDIBLE. I know nothing about poetry and sentence structure in verse, but I KNOW Elizabeth Acevedo is a master. Her syntax is inhumanely perfect, every word carefully chosen and placed where it is meant to be. I’m genuinely shocked this is a debut as the author appears so competent and experienced in her craft. If you are yearning for a story with beautiful writing and a memorable voice, The Poet X absolutely needs to be on your list.

I was really shocked with how much I resonated with this novel. Xiomara’s story deals with endless important topics, from dealing with sexism to questioning her faith as well as coping with her difficult family life and exploring her own identity. I went into this novel expecting to read a story about someone very different from myself (a Dominican teen with a twin brother who comes from a very strict, religious household) but came away relating to Xiomara in a way I have not connected with a character in a while. I felt so heard in the way Xiomara expresses her experience as a girl, not only in how she receives so much unwanted attention and objectification, but also in how she learns to recognize her value and take pride in herself. I love watching girls know their worth and finally lay claim to the space they are entitled to take up in this world, physically and emotionally. I’m taken aback with how accurately this story spoke to me, but I’m also leaving this story so empowered.

The Poet X was an enchanting story about what it means to be a girl, a sister, a daughter, but most importantly, what it means to be your own individual person. Xiomara is immensely creative, talented, likeable, and relatable. She has a story to tell that you won’t want to miss. I don’t think I would consider this an absolute favorite of mine, but it is an amazing story that I’d recommend to absolutely anyone.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,737 reviews5,277 followers
October 20, 2021
“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?”

I’ve always been fond of stories told through verse, and I love Elizabeth’s poetry, so when I learned that she was writing her first YA novel, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I never once doubted that I would love it, but I didn’t know it could mean so much to me. I didn’t have a clue that I was in for such a raw, honest ride about how religion impacts children and how detrimental it can be to try keeping a teen from blossoming into their own bodies and sexuality. I know The Poet X is a love story to poetry, but as someone who was raised in a sheltered, religious home, terrified of my own body and the things it wanted, this is a love story to those kids, too.

I am the baby fat that settled into D-cups and swinging hips so that the boys who called me a whale in middle school now ask me to send them pictures of myself in a thong.

→ body acceptance ←
Every teen’s path has a few major obstacles, and Xiomara’s are her body, and the ways people view her for it. At 15-going-on-16, she’s a tall Dominican girl with a thick figure, and she laments the different struggles it causes her – whether it’s boys (and men) giving her unwanted attention, or her mother blaming her for it.

When your body takes up more room than your voice you are always the target of well-aimed rumors, which is why I let my knuckles talk for me. I’ve forced my skin just as thick as I am.

→ rape culture ←
Xiomara’s young, but she’s already so painfully aware of what rape culture does to the society she lives in. She constantly is harassed, whether it’s a cat-call on the sidewalk or a stranger’s hand on her curves, but her experience is depicted so honestly. I think an unfortunate number of women, of all ages, will read this story and relate to the nauseating mixture of guilt and anger brought on by these words and gestures we never, ever asked for – unless breathing in a woman’s body is “asking for it”.

Trying to unhear my mother turn my kissing ugly, my father call me the names all the kids have called me since I grew breasts.

→ love and self-love ←
Meanwhile, throughout the struggles of living in this rape culture, Xiomara wants to live, and be happy, and find love. She has a sweet, understated blossom of romance with Aman, a classmate from Trinidad, and even explores the ways in which she can become comfortable in her own skin: learning to see her body as beautiful, not oversized, and discovering what she wants and needs. (By the way, can we please get more books normalizing teen girls who explore their own bodies like this one does? We’ve tried this whole “girls don’t crave sex like boys do” approach in YA for way too long, and it’s clearly not getting anyone anywhere.)

And I knew then what I’d known since my period came: my body was trouble. I had to pray the trouble out of the body God gave me. My body was a problem. And I didn’t want any of these boys to be the ones to solve it.

→ abuse ←
The other big struggle in Xiomara’s life comes in the form of her family, and her mother’s religious views. If you are uncomfortable with religion being portrayed in a candid and sometimes negative light, I’ll go ahead and say that The Poet X may be one you should go into with caution, as Xiomara does raise a lot of questions about the church, scriptures, and God. She has a hard time coming to terms with the devout beliefs of her loved ones, and the gap between her religious views and her mother’s come to blows (literally) throughout the story. There is an honest depiction of parental abuse in this story, and her mother’s excuses are consistently rooted in her religious beliefs, which I know may make some of my religious friends uncomfortable, so I wanted to offer fair warning on that.

When I’m told to have faith in the father, the son, in men – and men are the first ones to make me feel so small.

→ religion and women ←
There’s also quite a lot of discussion regarding how girls are raised in devoutly religious households, and how common it is that they are taught that their bodies are a stumbling block for the men in their lives. Xiomara finds herself frustrated by the idea that she is expected to carry the full burden of what men do to her body, and muses a few concerns about how absent she feels that God is from the objectification and abuse she faces. There’s also a bit of talk about how queer individuals are treated in the church, as Xiomara’s twin brother is gay and closeted, and the siblings feel a substantial amount of terror regarding how he’s going to be treated if he is outed.

And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.

→ final thoughts ←
At its core, The Poet X is a story about overcoming the ideals that our families push upon us, learning how to know who we are and what we want, and loving ourselves when the world doesn’t make it easy. It’s about family, and the ways that we try to make situations work, and the desperation with which we must remember that, at the end of the day, we have to keep ourselves happy and safe – no matter the relationships it may cost us. It’s about body positivity and loving the skin that we’re in, and fighting back against a society that reduces us to cup sizes and the length of our skirts. It is a beautiful, empowering, diverse, feminist tale, and I will undoubtedly be recommending it to everyone, but especially to any young girls who need to hear that they are whole, they are good, and they deserve happiness and freedom.

Content warnings: slut-shaming, body-shaming, homophobia, parental abuse, bigotry

All quotes come from an unfinished ARC and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to HarperTeen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Profile Image for  Teodora .
329 reviews1,777 followers
April 16, 2023
4.25/5 ⭐

I was honestly ready for some truth to be spoken in my face and this is exactly what happened. Thank you.

I was somehow pleasantly surprised by how this book turned out to be. I mean, I didn't really know what to expect from it, I just went for it to have a moment of "Amen, sister!". And I did have several.

I liked the fact that the poet presented the Dominican culture as it is, seen through the eyes of a girl who was not appalled by her culture, but she still wanted to experience it in a different way than her parents did. This is a book about learning how to love yourself while learning how to cope with external inconveniences.

Xiomara didn't want to be a nun like her mother wanted her to be and through her mother and father's inflexion, Xiomara had to find her own way through poetry and love.

I liked the fact that there were certain issues discussed in the short poems. These were one girl's thoughts about religion and about love and about parents and about freedom that were so true it hurt.

This collection of poems has been a very interesting survival guide, after all. What a girl must do in order to fight for herself and for who and what she loves and what she believes in.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,395 followers
September 3, 2023
✨How do you describe something PERFECT?

The verse. The story. The characterization. The biographical narration.
It's so damn powerful and unforgettable.

It's about being born as a woman, not being appreciated, not being taken seriously and being taken as 'just a girl'; being forced upon the so called societal norms by the so called adults, what to believe and what to follow, leaving no place for individuality; making 'her' feel like a second choice; being treated differently from the other when born as a twin; faith being forced upon; forced marriages; the pangs of growing up as a girl and being pressurized for all the so called unspoken rules to follow...

Why do we as women have to feel like we are a burden to our family?

(....I just cannot put in words every little thing I felt while reading this one. It's so hard hitting!
I am really OVERWHELMED....

I felt all these things just into 42 pages of the book!

There are so many sad parts...
I wish I was there for her.

There's one thing I came to know for sure while reading this (I have been thinking about this for a long time).
Women make women miserable.
(Ok. Maybe men too. But how great the world would become...wait!
How great women would be if we support each other, especially when mothers love and respect their own daughters!)

Having periods or being a virgin or not is not a sin, WORLD!

(My emotions are all over the place...what is this book?!)

Why do kids bully their peers?
Why is there even body shaming?!

Why do parents even constantly compare their own kids?

And why is the girl child made to feel guilt of everything she is and for everything she does?

I really felt all the feels when she talked about being judged for her music choices. Like really?

Loved how young love was being written.
Absolutely loved the sibling bond description.
(Almost speechless at this point...this book....feeling blessed...so blessed)
That's all about part I.
There are still the II and the III parts which are the elaboration parts of the first part.
She falls deeper in love; she knows more about her twin; she speaks more about her parents

I loved the entire book.
The gay theme was totally unexpected!

I really hate how the mother treats her....my heart is on fire.... I mean why, why why?!
Aren't you supposed to protect your daughter?

But yes, I can still understand we love our mothers no matter how they are... it's heartbreaking and sad sometimes yet it is just how it is.

The 3rd part ripped my heart.
I just wanted to hold her and her twin and tell them everything was going to be alright.

Overall, it's a book of a girl who has a strong voice.

What I loved most about this read:
Her relationship with her twin brother.
It will take me eons of books to read something like this again.

Told you...with my feelings and emotions all over, it is practically impossible to write a simple review for such a perfect read.

But I am glad I did😋

*Happy that I have started reading her second book☕
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
February 1, 2019
Poetry usually isn't my jam but this book was part of my "Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2018" so here we are...

I ended up really connecting with the main character, her story, her relationship with her family, her struggles with religion and the abuse she went through.

There was a lot of Spanish in the book but everything was translated right after so don't worry.

Overall an interesting read!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
February 17, 2019
Contemporary YA and poetry are usually a miss for me, so I am pleasantly surprised at the near-perfection of this coming-of-age story. The verse formats feel purposeful instead of gimmicky and the writing is so good without compensating with flowery language. It's simple yet effective and does a wonderful job at portraying the complexities of a teenager finding her voice within a culture that often suppresses young women. Even though our upbringings are not the same, I greatly enjoyed reading about Xiomara’s struggles with her religion and relationship with her mother because it felt authentic. I was engaged with her growth because it is one that reflects the lives of so many women and comes from a real place.

The reason why I’m not committing to a full 5 stars is because I felt the ending was rushed in a way that seemed jarring. Acevedo did such a great job building up Xiomara’s internal conflicts throughout the story that it felt strange to have them so quickly resolved at the end, wrapping it up in a neat little bowtie and lessening the nuance of the book. The book feels so realistic that it doesn’t feel quite right to me that it would abandon that realism by having the conflicts suddenly tied up neatly. I think a happy ending could still be achieved without such a narrative leap, even if it’s just Xiomara coming to terms with the power of her voice. Despite that, this is still a fantastic book that I’d recommend any young girl to read.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
December 21, 2018
This was INCREDIBLE. I very rarely enjoy poetry but I listened to the audiobook of this one and it absolutely blew me away. I can't wait to buy my own physical copy so I can tab up all my favorite parts. SO. DAMN. GOOD.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
247 reviews969 followers
March 12, 2021
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

4.5 stars

I never knew I liked poetry.

I’ve never been drawn to it. I have only ever read it in school, where it often left me bewildered. I would stretch my brain to search for the meaning behind the words of Dickinson, Whitman, and Frost. It was such a struggle. And not a very enjoyable one, at that. I would silently hope that the teacher would not call on me, knowing that I didn’t have many, or any, thoughts to contribute to the class discussion.

But that no longer is the case. Now, I get it. With The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo has opened my eyes and mind. I see poetry in a different light. And it is a warm, luminous, enveloping light.

“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”

The Poet X is a Young Adult novel-in-verse. Through free verse slam poetry, Acevedo tells the story of 15-year-old Xiomara Batista, as she comes of age in Harlem. Her parents are Dominican and her mother, especially, is devoutly religious. So desperate is her mother to force Xiomara to conform to the laws of the Church that she often employs emotional and physical abuse as punishment for Xiomara’s transgressions.

There are many, many thoughts swirling in Xiomara’s head -- a multitude of emotions, questions, and frustrations. She feels ignored and unheard by her parents. She doubts Christianity, as she feels it is being forced down her throat by her mother. She fights her developing body and the unwanted, harassing attention it brings her from boys and men. She has newfound feelings for a boy in her class at school, even though she knows her parents will not approve.

With having so much to say and no one who will listen, Xiomara turns to her writing journal. And she writes poem after poem after poem. She writes all that she cannot speak. She refuses to be silenced.

One of my reasons for reading The Poet X is that I desired a challenge. I wanted to step outside the box, outside my comfort zone. And I don’t know if I am even qualified to write a review of this novel. This is my very first novel-in-verse, and I have read nothing else to which I can compare it.

But I do know I loved it. Truly loved it. Acevedo’s writing is just so powerful.

Her poetry is raw and razor sharp. Her words are fiery and blaze across the page. They cut like a knife, straight into your soul. The language is spare. Clear and concise. There is no excess. No filler.


We feel Xiomara's rush of first love, and the headiness it brings her. We feel her anger towards her mother and her internal confusion about religion. We feel her rising indignation from being repeatedly sexually harassed at school and in her neighborhood.

“When I’m told to have faith
in the father the son
in men . . . and men are the first ones

to make me feel so small.”

We feel it all. And it is a beautiful thing.

Had it not been for the quick ending, The Poet X would have garnered a full five stars from me. But the story is too easily and tidily wrapped up. Particularly, the resolution of the story line regarding Xiomara’s relationship with her mother. It just doesn’t ring true, what with the speed of it all.

If The Poet X calls to you, answer the call. If you feel any pull to read it, allow yourself to be pulled. Challenge yourself. Try something different. For --

“There is power in the word.”

Bantering Books
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,196 followers
Want to read
April 14, 2020
it's time to be a man of culture with some poetry
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 23 books32.2k followers
August 22, 2019
I read this for a second time and caught all sorts of details I missed the first time. The phrase "required reading" conjures up images of old dead dudes. But the Poet X is what required reading SHOULD be: elegant, important and gripping--a story that stays with you. Whether you are a fan of YA or not, you should pick this one up.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,205 reviews19.7k followers
February 19, 2019
Elizabeth Acevedo, you are a goddess.
This poetry collection, told in a novel-like fashion, was what my soul needed. It was abundant and healing.

It’s about faith, family, love, forging yourself through obstacles, and pain and naysayers and finding your true voice.

It’s about coming out on top, because, ultimately, you matter. Your being matters.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
432 reviews1,792 followers
December 14, 2020
“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?”

Xiomara Batista is a young girl from Harlem who feels like her voice doesn't matter. In the form of poetry, she puts all she cannot say into a beloved notebook.

When she finally accepts the invitation to her schools poetry club — Xiomara knows it won't be long before her mami finds out she isn't at church, where's she's supposed to be, but decides to take the risk anyway.

Even though I couldn't immediately relate to all that Xiomara is going through, the author made me feel Xiomara's struggles and pain through the words, straight to my bones.

Her love for words and poetry was so heartwarming. When her mami That shit was intense.

The Poet X is a story written in verse. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated beautifully by the author. Elizabeth Acevedo did such a brilliant job, it made me think that authors should be narrating their own work more often!

I'm reading this as a huge middle finger to that guy who told me to read better poetry a few days ago. I'll read whatever poetry I damn well want, thank you
Profile Image for emma.
1,864 reviews54.3k followers
February 25, 2021
I would like to apologize.

It turns out - bleh - I was wrong.

I was not previously aware this was something that could happen, but apparently once every 23 years or so it occurs.

I always assumed I would not like Elizabeth Acevedo, because I do not, in my own mind, like poetry. And that's kind of her whole thing.

I felt reassured in my correct jump to conclusion when I read With the Fire on High, my first foray into her world of angsty artsy teens, and didn't really enjoy it. I thought, WHY NOT END THE FORAY HERE. NO MORE FORAYING FOR ME, A BRILLIANT GENIUS WHOSE ASSUMPTIONS ARE ALWAYS ACCURATE.

But then, alas...peer pressure. I picked up a copy of Clap When You Land for a buddy read because I constantly want to sit at the proverbial cool kids' table, but then that buddy read ultimately didn't happen because everyone at the cool kids' table was too cool to earnestly read a book written in verse.

But when I eventually read it...I - gag - enjoyed it.

And then I read this. And I didn't like this as much but I did still - ugh - like it.

So enjoy my wrongness while it lasts, haters. It's the only instance you'll get for the next two decades.

Bottom line: Sorry to all nerds. You win this time.


okay, fine. maybe i like poetry sometimes.

review to come / 3.5 stars

tbr review

really scared i'm going to lose my cool, edgy reputation by suddenly liking poetry
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.4k followers
December 17, 2018

Wow. This was absolutely phenomenal. What a powerful gut punch.

Elizabeth Acevedo's National Book Award-winning The Poet X is deserving of every single accolade that comes its way. This immensely moving novel-in-verse will light a fire inside you while it takes your breath away.

Xiomara Batista is about to start her sophomore year at a high school in Harlem. She has been the object of male attention since she grew tall and her body grew curves. Her fiercely religious mother has only mistrust for Xiomara, as she is convinced that a teenage girl with a body like that will only get into trouble. But Xiomara spends more time fighting the jeers and the curious stares, and standing up for her meeker twin brother, Xavier, whom she refers to as "Twin."

"The other girls call me conceited. Ho. Thot. Fast.
When your body takes up more room than your voice
you are always the target of well-aimed rumors,
which is why I let my knuckles talk for me.
Which is why I learned to shrug when my name was replaced by insults.
I've forced my skin just as thick as I am."

The best way Xiomara finds to combat everything that threatens to bring her down—her mother's religious fervor and mistrust, her father's disregard, the secrets that Twin seems to be hiding, and her growing desire for a boy to like her—is to write. She fills a well-worn leather notebook with her thoughts, her fears, and her poems. As her new English teacher encourages her to join a poetry club, Xiomara knows her words can't ever be heard by others or her secrets will fly away.

When she and her lab partner, Aman, begin a flirtation which grows ever more intense, Xiomara knows her mother's rules. She is not allowed to date, not even allowed to go anywhere with a boy. But for the first time, she decides to disobey her mother and spend time with Aman. She feels happiness, desire, guilt, confusion, but more than that, she can't quite understand why these feelings are wrong.

"How does a girl like me figure out the weight
of what it means to love a boy?"

But secrets can only be kept secret for so long. When Xiomara's secrets are exposed, their discovery, and her mother's reaction, threatens everything—her relationship with each of her family members, her self-worth, even her ability to express herself through poetry. She is lost, adrift, until she finds one beacon to help guide her back on course.

At times this is a difficult book to read because Xiomara's mother is so unflinching in her beliefs and so outwardly cruel to her daughter. In a small way, she reminds me of the mother in Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, because you just can't understand how a mother's love for her child could turn so twisted and cruel, even though you learn the reasons behind it.

Xiomara is a truly unforgettable character, and although you don't see him as much, I loved Twin as well, and wished he was more of a presence at times. To watch someone who has always carried herself with so much bravado find herself so vulnerable is sad, but you hope that she'll bounce back even bigger and stronger than she was.

I absolutely loved this book and read it in one day. I am not a fan of audio books but I am considering listening to this one, which Acevedo narrates herself, since she is an award-winning slam poet. I was utterly mesmerized by Acevedo's words and how they metamorphosized into such a memorable voice for Xiomara—simultaneously tough and soft, passionate and fearful.

This is a book about family, religion, friendship, young love, wishing you could be who your parents want you to be but not wanting to give up who you are, and the transformative power of words. The Poet X is a book I won't soon forget.

"I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn't that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark."

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,110 reviews3,029 followers
January 16, 2021
FEBRUARY 2020: This is my third time reading this book. I am still left speechless. I still laughed. I still cried. My heart is full. This story is sizzling with life. Elizabeth Acevedo's verses are pure magic that go directly to my heart. If you haven't already, GO READ THIS BOOK!

APRIL 2019: Okay, I'll admit it. I cried whilst listening to the audiobook. Almost for an hour straight. In public. And I read this story twice. On the same day. Yeah, a couple hours after finishing the audiobook I decided to get my physical copy and then read that one again. I cried. Again. I make good choices. Thank you very much.
This if for us. Ancestors: you crossed the harshest of waters / & waters & waters / & on the other side / still gasping / your breath / dreamt us / out of the tide / & we rise / because of / for you.
I'm still not sure how to process the fact that a book like this exists. It is about damn time that women of color finally get the good ass representation we deserve. The Poet X would've been a game changer had I read it at age 14, 15, 16 ... Even in my twenties, I could relate to Xiomara and saw my younger self's struggles reflected in hers. Books like these make me truly feel, on a visceral level, why representation in literature is so fucking important. It is such a crazy and, sadly, new feeling for me to feel so seen. Sure, Xiomara has a different background from me, nonetheless, we share many physical attributes, which led to similar experiences of how other people view one's body, of how we view our own body. Some of her verses (“and Mami told me I had to pray extra hard so that my body wouldn’t get me into trouble”) nearly sucked the air out of my lungs.
And I'm disgusted at myself
for the slight excitement
that shivers up my back

at the same time that I wish
my body could fold into the tiniest corner
for me to hide in.
There are many reasons as to why one should read (or preferably, listen to) The Poet X: it's funny, it's heartfelt, it's so fucking passionate, but above all, it's original. This is a YA novel told in verse, that actually isn't shit and lacklustre. Elizabeth Acevedo knows her craft. She's a force to be reckoned with. This woman has decades of experience in the slam poetry field and it definitely shows. She knows how to throw a punch with her words, how to make you feel pain, fear, frustration, happiness. Like, sis had me giggling and rooting for a somewhat cheesy YA relationship (which hasn't happened for years) and at the same time at the edge of my seat when shit hit the fan or crying my heart out when it came to the sibling relationship in this book. Acevedo knows how to perform her story. You cannot escape her brilliance, you will be immediately sucked in. Therefore, I would highly suggest listening to the audiobook, as it will make for a much better experience than reading the story for yourself.

The Poet X features healthy relationships, wonderful platonic relationships, important topics such as masturbation and your first period, an abusive home, Xiomara's struggle with catholicism. Like, this story is rich. Elizabeth Acevedo put a lot of thought into the social milieu she placed her main protagonist in. I was a huge fan of how seamlessly Spanish was interwoven in the narrative. Xiomara is the daughter of two Dominican immigrants, her mom barely speaks English, therefore, Spanish is one of her mother tongues. This duality of language was executed superbly. Personally, I cannot speak Spanish, however, the Spanish passages were always somewhat understandable through the context they were put in. I also highly appreciate the fact that the Spanish sections weren't italicised, which always annoys me when done in other books, especially if it's a language the character speaks fluently and understands perfectly. Being bilingual myself, I will never understand why certain authors feel the need to mark languages different from the one they are writing in as other.

The reason why The Poet X spoke to me on such a deep level is that Xiomara felt so real to me. Sure, there were certain cheesy moments in this book, almost all of which were linked to her blossoming relationship to Aman (I was rooting for them nonetheless, because this boy sure knew how to respect her boundaries, like YAS), but otherwise, the constant juxtaposition of Xiomara's deepest inner and most intimate thoughts versus what she actually lets the world see of her, helped me to paint such a real picture of her as a person. Her relationship to her best friend Caridad, to her twin brother Twin and to her teacher Ms. Galiano were so well fleshed out, I literally cannot deal. Some of their interactions were so life-like, I had to put the book down, because I felt personally attacked.
After the assault
Twin asks me if I’m okay.
And my arms don’t know
Which one they want to become:
A beckoning hug or falling anvils.

And Twin must see it on my face.
This love and distaste I feel for him.

He’s older (by a whole fifty minutes)
And a guy, but never defends me.

Doesn’t he know how tired I am?

How much I hate to have to be so
Sharp tongued and heavy handed?

He turns back to the computer
And quietly clicks away.
And neither of us has to say
We are disappointed in the other.
Like, Twin is my precious gay son and I want the best for him in the world, and seeing how he and Xiomara always wanted to protect the other but were simply unable to do so in certain situations (out of different reasons) was so fucking real to me, just thinking about it makes me cry. Xiomara knows that Twin being gay "makes him a target / And I can't defend against the arrows I know are coming." Therefore, she doesn't know how to deal with Twin's homosexuality. She wants to be supportive and she wants him to be happy, but she also fears what this will mean for him, what he'll have to go through because of it. I love how Acevedo handled this topic, since it was such a realistic portrayal and made it possible for Xiomara to reflect on her own biases and prejudices.
He’s Mami’s miracle.
He would become her sin.

I guess I hoped.

If I didn’t every really know.
It would be like he wasn’t.
But maybe my silence. 
Just made him feel more alone.

Maybe my silence.
Condones the ugly things people think.
Overall, I loved seeing Xiomara's growth and seeing her become more confident. It has been a while since I was rooting so hard for a fictional character. Needless to say, The Poet X has become my newest obsession and I'll definitely keep an eye on what Elizabeth Acevedo does next, I have a feeling that she could become one of my favorite modern writers. It's easy to see and feel the love she has for the craft of writing and poetry in particular. (“Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them. It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.”)
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews13.9k followers
July 4, 2019
4.5 stars

I read this from the library because I was unsure if a book in verse would be worth paying full price for, but after finishing it, my answer is yes. It is definitely worth the money to get a copy of my own. I loved multiple subjects this book tackled, mainly being the daughter of a religious mother and wanting to stray from that but experiencing guilt and anxiety over it. Plenty of other important topics were addressed, and it was all within a format that was as poetic as the main character’s hobby was.

This book began and ended on such sharp dialogue and impactful scenes that I enjoyed it right off the bat and I finished it with relish, but the middle stagnated a bit for me. I wish the climactic scenes were given as much time and as many pages as mundane day-to-day activities. Still, I was grateful for those because for a book in verse, the cast of characters is very humanized and fleshed out.

One thing that I found peculiar was that this book is about a poet, one who many times performs her poetry, and yet the reader is never actually shown the poems she reads to crowds, only the narration is shown. I wish we could have seen what Xiomara writes and shares with her peers and poetry competitions in addition to her inner monologue about what she experiences.

Despite these minor, minor issues, I highly enjoyed my reading experience and this book has definitely raised the bar for how books in verse should be. Honestly, I can see this book as required reading for teens. It’s so honest and because of its format, it packs a lot of meaning into succinct statements. I definitely plan on reading this author’s more recent contemporary book because I think her handle of language is outstanding and I fully support her stance on a lot of issues facing young women of color.
Profile Image for ˗ˏˋ lia ˎˊ˗.
306 reviews388 followers
April 6, 2021
“the ultimate actress because i’m always pretending, pretending i’m blind, pretending i’m fine; i should win an oscar i do it so well.”

what an EXPERIENCE! going into this, i was really unsure of what to expect. i have never read a book in verse before and chose to go with the audiobook because i have read a book narrated by elizabeth acevedo before and her narration was, yet again, absolutely fantastic. listening to her reading her own words out loud made me feel so incredibly emotional in a way that i didn’t think was possible because it was just so powerful and passionate. there were a few passages in which i had to stop what i was doing and just listen to her words in silence while, also silently, weeping a little. i’m definitely in the need of a physical copy for this one just to be able to go through some of my favorite poems once in a while and be reminded of the work of art this book is.

→ 5 stars
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,348 followers
February 22, 2019
🚨 Unpopular opinion alert! 🚨

The Poet X explores several important topics with a feather-touch: body shaming (Word!), the anti-feminist foundations of organized religion (Yas, girl! Preach!), and the grueling lack of autonomy most people suffer in high school when adulthood is longed for but just out of reach (Omg, same!). Unfortunately, Xiomara's story is peripheral, hasty, and occasionally lacks a sense of synchronicity between its chapters.

In the opening pages, fifteen-year-old Xiomara laments the way men respond to her full-figured body. She resents being objectified, reduced to an object of lust, and is rightfully outraged that men touch her body without her permission. Shortly thereafter, she heads to the park where she delights in ogling the "half-naked ball players" because "They're FINE."
Running around in ball shorts, and no tees,
their muscles sweaty, their skin flushed.
I lean against the fence and watch them
race up and down the court.

Xiomara's double standards about objectification of another person's body convolute an important message.

There's some sweetness here: first explorations of physical pleasure, the tenuous beginnings of young love.

And there's some pain: questioning one's faith, clashing with family, secrets that are painful to keep but would be more painful to vocalize.

The book's most notable grievance is its perfunctory verse. It lacks the lyricism and passion found in Blood Water Paint, written by fellow longlist nominee, Joy McCullough, the powerful economy of words demonstrated in Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, or the devastating emotional depth of One by Sarah Crosson.

By comparison, The Poet X is lukewarm, watered down, ineffectual. A blip. Here for a moment, fast to fade, easily forgotten.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
October 15, 2019
After reading With the Fire on High and finding it thoroughly underwhelming I started to doubt my memory of how good The Poet X actually was. But no, The Poet X is outstanding and miles ahead of Acevedo's sophomore work. For such a short book, it is infinitely rich in emotion and passion. You MUST listen to it read by the author.

This time I want to give it 5 stars, but again I can't get over how positive and unrealistically forgiving the ending is.

Well, ok. 4.5 stars it is...

Printz Medal 2019

Well deserved

Original review

As with many other novels-in-verse, I am struggling to call this poetry. To me, this is beautiful, effective prose, cut up and served up in small bits. I am used to traditional poetry (that rhymes at least occasionally) and might need further literary education to get on board with this concept of chopping up prose to present it in a visually distinctive and pleasing way and calling it poetry.

But I digress...

I recommend listening to this novel on audio. The author does an outstanding job reading her creation (and it doesn't sound like poetry in her reading either!)

The weakest part for me was the ending. Easy conflict resolutions and unearned forgiveness don't work for me. Nobody is owed absolution for horrible deeds, especially if they don't even feel bad for doing them!
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
827 reviews4,703 followers
July 7, 2020
🙎🏽‍♀️📓🖊 "Xiomara may be remembered as a lot of things: a student, a miracle, a protective sister, a misunderstood daughter, but most importantly, she should be remembered as always working to become the warrior she wanted to be." ❤️📝🎤

I loved how honest, raw & beautiful this book was. Elizabeth Acevedo gave voice to so many youth through Xiomara. I was her in my youth and this book took me back to those teen years growing up in NY with strict Hispanic parents. How I wish I had a book like this to remind me that I too was seen and heard during those emotionally wrought, chaotic years.

The story tackled so many important topics - family, love, religion, self-acceptance, sexuality, sexual harassment, friendship and it does so flawlessly in verse that keeps you turning the pages.

The relationships in the book are powerful - Xiomara & her twin Xavier, Xiomara & her mother (this relationship was wrought with emotion!), Xiomara and her father, Xiomara & her friend Caridad, Xiomara & Aman (her first love), Xiomara & her priest, Xiomara and her teacher, Ms. Galiano - all of them were complex and helped shape her.

Xiomara's voice was compelling, vulnerable, empowering and above all passionate. I probably would never have read this book if it hadn't arrived in my Page Habit box. I'm grateful it did because I would have missed out on a treasure! I look forward to seeing more from Elizabeth Acevedo in the future. She writes from the heart, celebrating her culture and giving a positive voice to hispanic/latino girls. This debut novel has certainly made me a fan. Now, I'm off to find some clips of her performing her award winning slam poetry.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,137 reviews2,748 followers
March 29, 2022
I wasn’t sure I would relate to this book, to X. But surprisingly, I did. I may be an elderly white woman, but I remember being told to behave, to be obedient, quiet, to not be myself. To be called names because of the size of my breasts. X finds her voice and I loved it.

Mami’s back is a coat hanger.
Her anger made of the heaviest wool.
It must keep her so hot.

This book took me back to my love of poetry. It’s a book I was dying to discuss, to hear read aloud. Xiamara has to fight to have her voice heard. Her mother is deeply religious and thinks X’s questioning of the Catholic faith is a sin. Her father just doesn’t want to be bothered. But her English teacher pesters her into joining the poetry club and from there, she learns to feel comfortable performing her slam poetry.
There are so many truths in this book. I highly recommend it to all ages.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,911 reviews33k followers
July 10, 2020
5 stars!!

Poet X is lyrical, deep, and meaningful. I loved the way this book was written. It had a fantastic flow, the poetry was poignant, and Xiomara's voice and character really shined through.

This is a story about a teenage girl who lives in Harlem. She lives with her twin brother, her father, and an overly religious mother. Xiomara isn't allowed to have a voice in that house. Her mother wants her to be close to a god she's not sure she believes in and feels that should be the focus of her life. Boys, poetry, anything meaningful to X is forbidden.

Her life is a struggle. Xiomara has a curvy body and at just 15, she is leered at by boys. She only has one boy she likes, but she can't really be with him the way she wants to be (overprotective mother). Xiomara's outlet is writing. Her poetry gets her through everything she goes through. Her words are powerful. And with those words, she not only expresses herself, but just maybe starts to change minds and hearts that she felt were impossible to change.

I listened to the audio version of this book, which was narrated by the author. Elizabeth Acevedo not only wrote a moving story, but gave a moving performance narrating it. If you're going to read this book, I can't recommend listening to it enough. I feel like I got more out of it hearing Xiomara's story and listening to her read her poems.

This is very much a coming of age story about a girl who doesn't feel like she fits. I loved that her entire story was told through slam poetry and it had such a great message. Poet X is a unique story I feel will stay with me. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,182 reviews2,785 followers
September 13, 2020
I admit I fell victim to the hype. YA and poetry is not usually my thing but I wanted to step outside my comfort zone. Given that this was so short, I thought it was worth a shot given all the 4 & 5 star reviews.

X, the main character, finds escape from her strict (some would say abusive) household through her poetry. I loved that a teenager can find solace and comfort in something so creative. She has a mother who is a turbo Catholic in all the worst ways. X is full of doubts and questions, as are most teens. Her awakening sexuality and a budding romance is something that sends her mother over the edge. X needs a supportive adult to help her through such a confusing time, but her father is emotionally absent and her mother is cold and harsh.

There are some contradictory themes that bothered me, and the ending was disappointedly predictable. My issues were not with the poetry or the structure of the book but with the plot. I'm not sure who the intended audience is for this book, but it was not me. If I had a young teen I would want to read it alongside him or her to discuss it.
Profile Image for Rachel  L.
1,862 reviews2,242 followers
January 26, 2023
5 stars!

“Late into the night I write and the pages of my notebook swell from all the words I’ve pressed onto them.
It almost feels like the more I bruise the page the quicker something inside me heals.”

Well, I completely understand why this book is winning all of the awards. It is absolutely magnificent.

Poet X a story, told in verse, about Xiomara a teenage girl from a religious background who has poetry bursting from inside her. Xiomara finds herself at odds many times with her mother who wants her to be a devout and innocent young girl, while her father and brother wish she would be silent and become invisible.

When a poetry club forms at school Xiomara is dying to join but it conflicts with her confirmation lessons and she knows her mother will never approve. Will Xiomara ever be able to express the words she keeps locked deep inside?

“The world is almost peaceful when you stop trying to understand it.”

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while but kept putting it off for some reason. I figured I would like it, I didn’t expect to be blown away by it and fall in love with Xiomara’s voice and story. I devoured this book in a matter of hours, completely sucked in with Acevedo’s words. I ended up crying while reading this book, my heart bled for Xiomara and all that she had to face.

An unforgettable read that I highly recommend. This is a story that needs to be heard and one I won’t ever forget.

“I only know that learning to believe in the power of my own words has been the most freeing experience of my life. It has brought me the most light. And isn't that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
425 reviews1,638 followers
January 4, 2019
4 Stars

“And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.”

15-year old Xiomara lives in a world where her mother controls her life at home and society tries to limit her elsewhere. But Xiomara will not be silenced. She discovers the world of slam poetry and finds her voice.

The whole story is written in verse, and I found the audiobook particularly powerful, as Xiomara uses her poetry to articulate and fight against the daily injustice in her life. This includes her complicated relationship with her very religious and controlling mother, the rape culture prevalent at her school, and how she’s been taught to view her femininity negatively. These were all important topics handled with depth and care.

Overall, I found these poems incredibly intimate and raw. You don’t just spend time in Xiomara’s head, but instead in the gaping wound in her chest. You feel what she feels. Because of this, her development felt particularly personal and I stayed completely invested.

I do feel the resolution was slightly rushed. Certain abuses were forgiven very easily and it made me a little uneasy. While I liked the ending, it felt less organic than the rest of the story.

In Conclusion:

This is an intense story that focuses on a complex girl and the power of voice.
Profile Image for Feyre.
102 reviews244 followers
November 22, 2018
“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?”
― Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X

This was really powerful and moving, however I just couldn't connect with Xiomara and was at times, frustrated with her.

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