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The Poet X

The Poet X

Book - 2018 | First edition
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Harlem. 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062662804
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 361 pages ; 22 cm


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From Library Staff

Xiomara is finding herself and her voice. If you're a fan of slam poetry, you'll probably love this.

This stunning novel in verse tells the story of Xiomara Batista, a vibrant teen with a complicated life.

From the critics

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May 24, 2021

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel about a 15-year-old girl named Xiomara Batista who lives in Harlem with her mom, dad, and twin brother. Xiomara has developed a love for poetry and has been able to use her poetry skills to get through some of the hardest times in her life. Xiomara has never had support from her family and does not have any friends that can help her understand and get through all the emotions that she constantly goes through. Her passion for poetry started with her writing her deepest secrets, feelings, and hardships into her leather notebook. After some time in English class, her teacher Ms. Galiano realizes how good she is with words and asks that she join her Slam Poetry Club. Xiomara is very hesitant and is nervous about speaking her poetic words out loud in front of people but at the same time is very excited to be able to express herself in a way that she has never been able to do before. And with that motivation and courage, she joins the club but keeps it a secret from her mom because she knows that her mom will tell her to quit the club and focus on her religion. Xiomara soon begins to have feelings for a boy named Aman in her biology class who she keeps a secret from her entire family as well. Keeping all these secrets from her family soon creates big problems for Xiomara.

I enjoyed reading this book because it let me know that if I have any issues with school or at home there is always someone who will help even when you think there is no one to reach out to. It was also interesting to hear about someone else’s high school experience especially from a girl's perspective because as a girl I have never experienced the things Xiomara experienced and it also gave me insight into what other girls in high school are experiencing. Before reading this book I was really curious about how Xiomara would solve her issues and being able to see her journey was nice and gave me more knowledge about problem-solving and how to go about certain situations. If you're looking for a book about high school with drama but not too much drama then this is the book for you. Also if you're looking for a book about families and how they connect and disconnect then you should check this book out.

Even though this book was good, it was not as juicy as I wanted it to be. I was waiting for a part to get so good that I would start flipping through pages so fast but I didn’t get that sadly. It was like a part got good and juicy and ended with something so bland. I also didn’t like how some parts were missing as far as explaining characters. I wanted it to focus on some other characters just as much as Xiomara because the characters were like pop-ins throughout the whole book. There was not much background on who each character was. If you're looking for a book that has juicy drama and you fear what's going to happen to the character I suggest not reading this book.

May 19, 2021

Absolute perfection! I've never had the pleasure of reading a story through poems and it was amazing! Such a talented writer, I will gladly read everything she ever writes.

FPL_Jenni Apr 17, 2021

The Poet X is an incredible novel told in verse that has won multiple literary awards because of its powerful messages and themes. Some of these themes include the idea of shame being associated with sexuality and being a girl/woman in a deeply religious and Hispanic community. Since the novel is structured to be read as Xiomara’s private poetry notebook, the subject within it seems personal. The anger and confusion that she feels because of how her family and the rest of the community treats her is relatable to any girl who grew up in a religious or Hispanic community. Her anger in the realization that men in the community are glorified for being “promiscuous” while women who are objectified by these same men are shunned is prevalent. These relatable and timely ideas make The Poet X impactful no matter who is reading it. ​

Mar 06, 2021

Xiomara is a high school sophomore who lives with her twin brother, who she calls Twin, and her Mami and Papi, who are an older couple that came to the US from the Dominican Republic. Xiomara's Mami is old fashioned and religious, so she pushes Xiomara to devote her life to God, but Xiomara has questions and uses her writing as a way to seek answers. She begins to notice boys, and she knows that her Mami will see this as a sin, so when she starts spending time with Aman, she hides it from Mami. At the same time, Xiomara's teacher has asked her to join a writing club because she sees potential in the work Xiomara turns in for class. Xiomara would like to go, but knows that this is another thing Mami will not approve of. How long can Xiomara hide who she really is?

Poet X is written in verse which is a style of writing that I will probably never be very comfortable with, but it does tell a modern tale of family life. The contrast between what Xiomara wants versus what her Mami wants for her is sharply drawn, showing questionable decisions made by both characters that cause pain for the entire family. With neither character willing to give in, a boiling over point is inevitable. The strength of this novel is in its unwillingness to back down on issues of religion and family, however it does fail in addressing other social issues raised in the book. Overall, Poet X is a well written, thought provoking story told in a writing style that is enjoyable for many but off-putting for some.

Oct 29, 2020

Already read this book. ellen carol barnett

The author is successful at writing a good YA story while using poetry to help the reader understand the main character, Xiomara. This is the story of a teenage girl who is finding her way while growing up in Harlem, coming to terms with her catholic religion, and her desire to be heard. She writes poetry and joins the Poetry Slam Club and has to hide this from her strict mother. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars because of how well Acevedo is able to weave the poetry into the story line. Through the poetry the reader learns about the character and her feelings about her mother, her church and her desires.

Sep 30, 2020

The Poet X is for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The book is written in prose and will not disappoint. The protagonist, Xiomara Batista has a lot to say, but often feels the pressure of a family that does not support her exploration in creativity. When she gets invited to her school’s poetry slam, everything changes and she’s faced with choosing to appease her family or choosing to express herself through performing poetry. I really loved this book because of how I could connect to the main character being a POC who deals with the pressure of trying to be perfect, while fighting inner demons. The book was crafted very beautifully and I find myself picking it up to read again and again.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Sep 08, 2020

Such a good coming of age story. Xiamara knows who she is from the get-go, but seeing her fully form into that amazing person, feeling strong and comfortable enough to let her truth shine was inspiring. I recommend the audio for the author's powerful reading of this YA novel in verse.

Aug 20, 2020

Adored this! The poetry is lovely and the coming of age element is just so well-done.

Aug 19, 2020

A beautifully written book!

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Add Age Suitability
May 24, 2021

lmoodie17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Oct 07, 2019

blue_bat_668 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 06, 2019

AwesomeErin_07 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 04, 2019

pink_panda_1782 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 13 and 25

OPL_KrisC Jun 13, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Quote
Jun 16, 2020

heaving the words like weapons from my chest;
they're the only thing I can fight back with.

Apr 08, 2020

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


Add a Summary
Apr 04, 2019

Review: Note: The Poet X includes physical and religious abuse, sexual harassment, and references to homophobia.

One of the best things about a novel in verse is how immediate the character’s voice can feel. Xiomara is an outstanding character who is trying to figure out how to express herself and coming to terms with the fact that what her church teaches (and her mother staunchly believes) does not reflect the world as she sees it or the way she wants to live. She is sharp, witty, and always bracing for a fight, and some of my favorite poems are the contrasts between what she wants to say and what she actually feels she can say (e.g., her homework assignments).

The Poet X is a great coming of age story. Xiomara pretty much does it all—falling in love, questioning religion, clashing with family, finding an outlet for her passion, calling out rape culture and sexism—and good times and the bad help her discover who she truly is and what she believes. Xiomara discovering and falling in love with slam poetry while we’re reading her poetry is a beautiful experience. It made me want to pull up some of my favorite Sarah Kay videos (yes, I had a slam poetry phase in my 20s) and just put them on repeat.

Even without knowing author Elizabeth Acevedo’s impressive and extensive body of slam poetry work, her love for the form was clear throughout the book. And so was Xiomara’s. I loved every time Xiomara made it to the poetry club or interacted with the other members, especially Ms. Galiano. Women mentoring other women is one of my favorite things, and having this teacher repeatedly reach out to Xiomara and encourage her talents was honestly inspiring.

But Xiomara’s story isn’t just a steady upward climb of honing her poetic talents; it touches on several more difficult topics. She is keenly aware of how much rape culture permeates her life and how much her mother buys into it and into the church’s sexism. There are some awful, painful scenes where Xiomara is punished (or insulted) for her budding sexuality and religious doubt. While there is a mostly hopeful conclusion to some of this, it left me concerned that Xiomara had only really bought herself some breathing space with her mother. (But that’s my pessimistic self.)

The romantic relationship between Xiomara and Aman is very well done, and Aman is one of the many interesting supporting characters in the book. One of the best traits a romantic lead can have, in my opinion, is consistently demonstrating a desire to listen. When Xiomara felt like she had to be silent, Aman was there, encouraging her with her poetry. (Another excellent trait is knowing when to apologize and how to make up for doing wrong.) I was also very fond of Twin (Xiomara’s twin brother, Xavier) and Caridad, as well as Ms. Galiano.


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