Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

the poet x


A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
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, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she 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.


This was my 300th and the last read of 2018 and I really wanted to choose something very good and memorable. Despite not being a fan of the poetry format much, I’m so glad I decided to pick up this audiobook because this amazing little novel written in verse is worth all the accolades it has received and so much more.

Xiomara is a fierce rebellious teenager who is very relatable because we all have gone through that phase. Only when we start getting to know her better do we realize that her journey is much more heartbreaking. Since she has grown into her body, she has been harassed in public and in school, touched and groped and catcalled; on top of that, she also has to listen to her uber religious mother guilt her more into believing that her body is responsible for all the unwanted attention she is getting, which only makes Xio want to disappear. However, as she grows up, she starts questioning everything – why she is supposed to believe all the religious teachings that she is taught blindly, why is it wrong to like a boy and how is it her fault when she is the victim of daily harassment.

I was not sure how much of the plot could be expressed properly due to the format but the author does a wonderful job. Listening to it in her voice also makes it better because it felt like I was reading it the way she intended. After being silenced for so long, when Xio finally discovers the power of words and poetry, I really loved seeing her come into her own. All the walls she had built around her to protect herself crumpled slowly and she let us see her true feelings. The poems truly give us a glimpse into the mind of a teenage girl going through puberty – her jumbled feelings about kissing and touching, about consent, about feeling comfortable within herself and feeling strong enough to put herself out there and most importantly, wanting to do all these things even though she is not allowed to. Her character development is just brilliant and it was a joy seeing her grow. Her relationships with her twin and best friend are also beautifully written. However, I did struggle a lot with her mother’s character – she is definitely a troubled woman who lets her own personal guilt (or maybe shame) determine how her daughter should be and some might call her behavior overprotectiveness, but for me it was emotional abuse and sometimes physical too. Though the author tries to give us a sense that the mother-daughter duo are to trying to repair their relationship, I thought the ending was too simplistic and I would have definitely liked to see more remorse from the mother.

If you are skeptical about this book because of its format, don’t be. Just pick up the audiobook and let the author take you on this wonderful journey into the mind of an amazing strong young woman called the Poet X who will blow your mind with her raw honesty.

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24 thoughts on “Book Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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  1. I also listened to this on audiobook and it was pretty good, my only complaint is that I had a hard time telling sometimes what was going on because the format didn’t quite transfer always through the voice. But it was a very compelling and important read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This book has received so much praise that it was already on my TBR before I saw this review. Even I’m not super comfortable with the poetry genre but I think I’ll do what you did and pick it up on audio. Superb review, Sahi! ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t even like poetry Shruti, so I’m pretty sure you will love it… But get the audiobook if possible… the emotions she evokes with her narration is very moving…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard so many great things about this novel, but I’m not a huge fan of poetry so I’m waiting for my audiobook hold to come in so I can listen to it. Glad to hear that the audiobook version worked well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The same reason I chose the audiobook too Victoria… poetry doesn’t work for me at all… but the author narrates herself so she brings out the emotions perfectly 👍👍


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