The Poet X

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Hardcover, 2018





HarperTeen (2018), Edition: 1st Edition, 368 pages


"Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, Xiomara Batista has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. 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. Mami is determined to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, and Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. When she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she can't stop thinking about performing her poems"--Dust jacket.

User reviews

LibraryThing member asxz
I think I've read enough YA books to know the difference between something that is aimed at young adults and something that feels like it was written by a young adult.

I have no problem with books that deal with "issues", but when the issues come straight of a list called "YA plot points for first-time novelists", it can be a little exhausting. Finding your voice? Check. Fighting with a parent? Check. Gay brother without a fully fleshed-out story? Check. Complicated feelings about kissing? Ugh... and check.

I love the fact that the author is a slam poetry champion and maybe this story would work better in that medium. For this reader, it didn't fully work as a novel. There are moments where the words on the page carry the weight necessary to transform them into poetry,

but, a lot of the time,


just sentences with

unnecessary line breaks.
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LibraryThing member fromthecomfychair
I'm not a big fan of the novel in verse format, but I must say I really enjoyed the audiobook version of the story, which is spoken by the author herself. I was fascinated by the culture of the poet X's Dominican family, close knit, protective, and especially strait-laced, particularly her mother. This is a coming of age story, about a young woman who questions, and who wants to express her experience through poetry. It is about the conflict between her ideas, and those of her mother, a woman who wanted to become a nun but was forced by her family to marry. The conflict between mother and daughter is the framework for this novel and Acevedo does a wonderful job in voicing the story. Authors aren't always the best readers of their own work, but in this case, Acevedo's rendition actually makes it for me. After all, it is a form of poetry, and most poetry is meant to be spoken.… (more)
LibraryThing member jnwelch
The Poet X is an excellent YA novel written in easy-to-read free verse. Xiomara Batista ("X") is making her way through adolescence in a Harlem high school. She has a very strict Catholic mother who may be "do as I say, not as I did." X doesn't tolerate unwelcome lotharios or meanness, and sometimes has to stick up for her gentle, smart twin brother. I loved her questioning of her Catholic faith and the patriarchy impressed on her, even if her mother doesn't. X is studying for her confirmation while filled with uncertainties, and has a romance blossoming with a science partner that must be kept hidden from her parents. X loves to write poetry, and yearns to join the school's slam poetry team - which meets at the same time as confirmation class.

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

“My brother was born a soft whistle:
quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound.
But I was born all the hurricane he needed
to lift - and drop- those that hurt him to the ground.”

“Maybe, the only thing that has to make sense
about being somebody's friend
is that you help them be their best self
on any given day. That you give them a home
when they don't want to be in their own.”

The author is a successful slam poet herself, and the writing here is easy and natural. This is about a girl struggling to find herself and her way, ready to do battle to make that happen. Because this is a YA book, the ending perhaps is a bit neater and more upbeat than it might have been. X will keep you racing through the pages and pulling for her to make it.bbbbbbb.
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LibraryThing member greeniezona
I was drawn into this book because of the hype, and it was worth every bit of it. I loved this book from the first pages, the first verses. The only reason I gave this four instead of five stars is that I perhaps over identified and there is a violation in this book that I experienced so viscerally that I couldn't get past it. (her mother burning Xiomara's notebook) Xiomara and her mother reconciled by the book's end, but I was still so mad that I couldn't get there. I really needed some more emotional work in putting that back together.

Of a specific culture and moment -- yet so raw and relatable. I dare you not to fall in love with Xiomara -- especially if you were ever the sort to fill notebooks with poetry or challenge the theology in your Sunday school class.
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LibraryThing member debbiesbooknook
My Takeaway

“Pero, tú no eres fácil.”
You sure ain’t an easy one.”
The Poet X

¡Mira muchacha (Look girl) -- your book kept me up until 1:30am! Pero (but), I'm not complaining because it was sooo worth losing a few hours of sleep. This magnificent poetry book is a SLAM dunk!! The Poet X evoked so many emotions and memories of my childhood and (very) Dominican upbringing. Acevedo is a master of words and I am in awe of how her poems have profoundly touched my soul. I found so many similarities and aha moments in the book. To start, my momma did not play! She was just as strict and religious (Pentecostal) as Xiomara's mother. Also, my brother and I were not allowed to speak any English at home because she wanted us to be able to communicate and understand family members who did not speak Ingles (like my dad and grandparents). Just like Xiomara, we had to go to church every Sunday and it was an all-day event. Likewise, I was not allowed any boyfriends (not that this stopped me from having them). And though The Poet X was not around when I was a teen, boy am I glad it's here now. My 15-year-old self and young daughters cannot thank Acevedo enough for this stunning work of literature. Oh, and don't even get me started on how beautiful the cover is. I love this book and it is now a top favorite and one I will read again and again (pa que sepa).… (more)
LibraryThing member iwriteinbooks
I was so excited to get my hands on this.

And lord did it live up to the hype.

It is at once a love letter to growing up and a filing of a complaint against a world that forces growing up onto girls.

Acevedo's lyrical writing is the perfect format for her heroine, X, as she navigates family, friends, faith, and her own true self.

Even though we had different experiences in our formative years, X's struggles resonated deeply with me which I think is a testament both to the magic of the book and the systemic suffocation girls and women face when it comes to finding our voices and our bodies.

I was both excited and a little nervous about the poetry format but it flows and fits so well that I can't think of this story told any other wat. It delivers an otherwise good book as a really powerful punch.

If you haven't read this, please, oh, please, do so.
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LibraryThing member mjspear
Xiomara is trying to be a good girl but her body, suddenly curvaceous and teaming with hormones, feels otherwise. She is a first generation American, born in the Dominican Republic, and struggles to find a balance between her old-world parents and sudden new-world demands. She finally starts confirmation class but is questioning the Catholic Church. She is forbidden to date boys yet develops feelings for her lab partner and they sneak off for casual dates. Her mother seems tyrannical and her father is silent. Her twin, a certifiable genius unlike Xio, has a big secret of his own. Xio is trying to control her temper (after all, she was born feet first, ready to fight) with words. Her English teacher turns her on to Def Jam Poetry and, finally, Xiomara finds her voice. A beautifully written novel in verse with a powerful message of the power of poetry.… (more)
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
Some novels-in-verse read like separate poems strung together as story. The Poet X reads like a novel first—with the bonus that it's told in verse through the strong voice of Xiomara.

Early on, 15-year-old Xiomara explains her tough exterior. She is tall and well-developed. The boys call to her and grab her. Jealous girls talk about her. "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." In truth, she's never even held hands with a boy because her religiously zealous, harsh, Catholic mother forbids it. Her father isn't much help. Seemingly present in body only, he said at her complicated birth, "Pero, tú no eres fácil." / You sure ain't an easy one."

Her twin brother is a genius but "was birthed a soft whistle: quiet, barely stirring the air, a gentle sound." Another reason for bleeding knuckles. Xiomara protects him.

She does have a solid best friend, and sometimes in life, that's why we survive. Opposite in every way, they shouldn't be friends, but Xiomara says, "Caridad knows me in ways I don't have to explain. / Can see one of my tantrums coming a mile off . . ."

Then there's her new tenth grade English teacher. Ms. Galiano recognizes her writing talent and tries to coax her to join the poetry club. She doesn't tell her teacher that the poetry club conflicts with confirmation class. Her mother would never let her miss that. And Aman, the boy she likes, conflicts with everything else her mother demands.

The story moves along at a good pace with just enough tension and drama and light moments to let you see into Xiomara's heart, along with glimpses into the struggles her brother faces. (Might there be a future book from his point of view?) Part three (of three) made me cry (tears of anguish and then of hope).

It's not just the story that makes this book stand out. It's the poetry. From the clever titles (a struggle for most poets) to the different forms to the imagery to the way it sounds out loud, there wasn't a single poem I disliked. I've never read a poetry book where I liked every single poem.

My one small gripe is that Acevedo sometimes repeats information (her brother being older or her like for apples or ice skating when they were younger). Readers (especially poetry readers) pay attention. It's almost an insult to tell us again to make sure we didn't miss it the first time.

That's a small quibble and one that maybe wouldn't be noticed anyway. I highly recommend this book for teenagers, the adults in their lives, and poetry lovers in general.
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Xiomara is from a Dominican immigrant family. Her mother is extremely religious, and wants Xiomara to grow up in her mold. But Xiomara has her own throughts and since they are not to be expressed at home, she confides them in poetry in a writing journal. The chance to join a poetry club at school and perform in a slam excite her, but she can't let her mother know.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kristymk18
"I will never
write a single
ever again.

I will never
let anyone
see my full heart
and destroy it."

Wow. Where was this book when I was in high school? I needed this book back then and I am so glad that it exists today.

"I am unhide-able.
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."

This was utterly amazing. Told in verse, it doesn’t shy away from the confusion and emotions of being a teenage girl, particularly one raised in a strict religious family who doesn’t quiet fit in with them. Xiomara is the child of immigrants and developed early physically. She struggles to find her place and her identity in her home, in school, in the world. I absolutely loved how real and raw she was.

"Just because your father's preset
doesn't mean he isn't absent."

I wished I highlighted books because I stopped so often to write down or take a picture of a page. I would have highlighted this whole book if I could. It was that good.

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

This has been on my radar for a while and I was lucky to get a copy from LibraryThing.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Xioamara finds her voice through poetry in this novel in verse. The audio was amazing, read by the author and the poetry moving. There are family conflicts, first love, culture and religion struggles, and the bravery of sharing ones story.
LibraryThing member Lindsay_W
The Poet X is the first generation daughter of Dominican immigrants. Xiomara has endured life in her Harlem neighborhood by developing a sharp tongue to protect herself from unwanted attention. As she navigates the first months of grade ten, and her first boyfriend, Xiomara is increasingly in conflict with her pious and judgmental mother. When a teacher encourages Xiomara to express herself by sharing her poetry, she abandons her desire to be invisible and discovers the power of having her voice heard – especially by the people who matter the most.

If you have been meaning to try a book in verse, this would be a good place to start. Head over to to check out more of the author’s Award Winning Poetics.
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LibraryThing member SnorterMcPhail
An absolute triumph. The poetry is exquisite, powerful, nuanced, and timely. The story unfolds so delicately, but is so engrossing. I couldn't put it down. This was unlike anything I've ever read.

I'm out of compliments. Loved it
LibraryThing member ChristianR
Beautiful book. Xiomara's strict mother doesn't approve of or understand her. Boys make comments about her body. She secretly falls for her lab partner. Her perfect brother has secrets of her own. The poetry that she writes, in which she pours out her innermost thoughts, must be hidden from her mother.
LibraryThing member electrascaife
A fabulous and fabulously-told story in free verse of Xiomara, a Dominican American teen trying to find her voice as a poet, trying to find her way through her first relationship with a boy, working through her resistance to confirmation classes and her mother's strict faith, and figuring out how to show her twin brother her support as he negotiates his own issues with their strict family and his identity.
This Printz Award winner absolutely deserves the honor. It's an important story and I love that such a character is given a strong voice. I hope that tons of high school students get this one in their hands.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
Phenomenal! This book should be listened to! A young woman comes of age through her poetry and living life. The prose and poetry are powerful, evocative, and speak to being human, to coming of age, and to the struggles of identity development. "There is power in the word"!!!
LibraryThing member AlysinBookland
This is the first verse novel that I have read this year. Every page makes me want to nod my head to show how every part seems relatable or somehow understandable to me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m reading a part of my life through this book, and I feel nostalgic about how some words reminds me of some happy and hurtful past. In this book, you will discover how Xiomara was raised by a family who imposed strict rules and sees religion a vital part of their life. How every move of her has bad feedbacks from her mother. How she can’t freely do something, she wanted. How writing saves her from hating her life because it is what will change her life since she discovers the slam poetry club.

I admire how the author makes me like this novel. I have read a solid and moving read. There is something to learn about her in every turn of the pages. Something to learn not just about herself but also about the family she lived with, the people around her, and the issues that until now still exist. After reading it, I agree that her experiences really do happen, but some were only ignored or not entirely taken seriously by some people. This book also discusses in-depth topics that everyone should be aware of.

The way it was written added more enjoyable moment for me to read it. Unlike the traditional way of writing stories, this one was written in poetry style. So, the time it took me to finish, this is only a few hours. But! In that few hours, every part of this book gives a significant impact on me, especially I, somehow, relate to her story. Also, when I was reading it, it was like someone was just telling me their stories as if that talking person is in front of me.

This is really a great read, I’m telling you. I really recommend that you read this if you want to know or to feel what I experienced in reading this book. If you are a woman, read this. If you are someone who grew up in a strict and religion-centered family, you better have a copy of this book. And if you happen to become intrigued by this book, then you really should have this as your next read.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy of this book from HarperCollins through Karina of Afire Pages.
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LibraryThing member alanteder
The Poet Xiomara
Review of the 2018 hardcover edition from HarperTeen

Young adult fiction.
Beautifully written down,
By the Poet X.
LibraryThing member streamsong
This YA novel written in blank verse is a gem.

Ninth grader Xiomara is a first generation Dominican American living in Harlem. Her mother is a strict Catholic and wants Xiomara to be that way too – but Xiomara has too many questions about God to be allowed to be confirmed with her other classmates.

Her body is becoming curvacious, but her mother has mandated no dating until after college. How can her friendship with her bio partner be wrong?

Her closest ally in the family is her twin brother. He's also grappling with his sexuality, but he understands Xiomara in a way no one else in his family can. He buys her a special leather bound journal to write her thoughts – which often take the form of poems.

And then she is invited to join the school poetry club which once again, causes conflict with her confirmation classes.

A great coming of age story as Xiomara 'The Poet X' stretches her wings to learn who she is and what is truly important to her.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
Xiomara is being pulled in all directions -- her extremely Catholic mother wants her to be a "good girl" who attends church and confirmation classes dutifully; her teacher wants her to join poetry club; all the boys at her school (and grown men elsewhere) want her body; and Xiomara isn't quite sure how to balance everything and get what she wants as well.

As this is a novel in verse, I was a little hesitant going in to this book, even though it received positive acclaim and awards. However, I had nothing to fear as it was an excellent read from cover to cover. I highly recommend that audio version read by the author. Herself a slam poet, Acevedo gave the words the rhythm they called out for, making the text sing right off the page. Xiomara's voice felt so honest and real. While her specific situation may vary from others, her story is relatable enough for many teens.
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LibraryThing member catiebarber
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel in verse about a young Afro-Latina named Xiomara who lives in Harlem and is uncomfortable in her curvy new body. With this new body she cannot hide and has to protect herself. One of the ways that she hides her feelings is writing poetry, but she hides this, until she becomes a part of a slam poetry club and things change drastically. This is a beautifully written book that shows the power of a young lady and how strength can pull you up.… (more)
LibraryThing member foggidawn
Teen poet Xiomara grapples with first love, questioning faith, and her fraught relationship with her mother.

I almost gave up on this book early on. The angst was nearly too much for me. However, I gave the book a second chance, and I’m glad I did. Xiomara is a character who really struggles and earns the things she accomplishes by the end of the book. There’s a lot of powerful, raw emotion here. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member bell7
Xiomara writes in her journal, her poems and thoughts that she doesn't dare say allowed to her mother, especially. Her mother is deeply religious and wants Xiomara to be confirmed - but she isn't sure what she believes, and doesn't feel heard. In her notebook, however, she can speak all the thoughts she can't say aloud.

This free verse novel is really powerful, and I can definitely see why it's won the awards and acclaim it has. Xiomara's character really blooms her freshman year of high school, as her poems cover September to January, very much focusing on a new beginning for her and her family. It's a fast read, but there's so much from family ties to religion to first love and everything in between. Xiomara's voice is beautiful, and I guarantee you will cheer her on in her journey.… (more)
LibraryThing member bookworm12
I'm officially completely in love with Acevedo's work. This is the third book I've read of hers and I've loved each one. She writes young women in such a believable and intimate way. She captures their strength and vulnerability while also exploring a Dominican Republic heritage. She wrote the whole novel in verse and I'm not a poetry fan, so I was worried it wouldn't work for me. This is the story of a young poet struggling with new love and her religion. I highly recommend trying her out on audio. She reads her own books and her lyrical prose is incredible.

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

“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.”

“Maybe, the only thing that has to make sense
about being somebody's friend
is that you help them be their best self
on any given day. That you give them a home
when they don't want to be in their own.”
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LibraryThing member Jessika.C
I decided to bump this book up on my tbr pile because I discovered that it featured a black Latina. I think that kind of representation is important because colorism is so evident in every part of the world. In Latin America most entertainment leads are light skinned and have lightened and keratin treated soft hair leaving our darker skinned cousins without representation.

Xiomara is a 15 year old Dominican American girl living in Harlem. She has a religious mother, an absent father, and a twin named Xavier that she affectionately refers to as “Twin”. Through her poems we see her true feelings about religion, sex, family, and growing up. A young Afro-Latina is given a voice through words and although it takes about 30 seconds to read each page, they’re all full of life.

I’m inspired by these types of stories. Sometimes you want beautiful passages describing a neighborhood but other times you need something straight to the point. In few words I enjoy reading between the lines and imagining Xiomara’s life. I highly recommend this story for anyone wanting a glimpse of what it is like to be a biracial teenager in a religous household.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

368 p.; 5.5 inches


0062662805 / 9780062662804


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