The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X cover, the face of a girl with her hair transforming in ink stains and poetry verses in her hair

Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Publication date: 2018

Date started: 30/10/2020
Date finished: 01/11/2020

First sentence: “The summer is made for stoop-sitting / and since it’s the last week before school starts, / Harlem is opening its eyes to September.”
Last sentence: “And isn’t that what a poem is? A lantern glowing in the dark.”

Content warning: abusive parenting (physical & mental abuse, destroying property, guilt tripping) in a religious context, use of Christianity to justify abuse, sexism, body shaming, victim blaming for catcalling and harassment, sexual harassment, homophobia

Summary (spoilers): Xiamora is stuck between her need for freedom and her extremely religious family, and she finds solace in expressing her feelings through poetry in a secret notebook. Her English teacher Ms Galiano tries to convince her to join the school’s slam group, and after much hesitation she does and starts to perform for the public. She struggles with having to hide her boyfriend Aman from her mother who, when she does eventually find out, burns her poetry notebook in retaliation… And she’s also trying to protect her twin brother Xavier and his boyfriend. Eventually she manages to establish some dialogue with her mother who comes to one of her performance.

Opinion: This book was extremely tough. I was expecting a powerful book about slam and finding your voice, and in a way it was that, but it was so, so dark with all the parental abuse and control that it got me extremely depressed in a time where I wasn’t feeling great to start with, so I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody.

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