I got to read this book for a class I’m taking. I was really excited when I saw it on the list of choices for this module because it’s been on my TBR since before it was published. I need to write a more analytical review for the class, but I figured I could process some of that by writing a blog review so here we are. Let’s dive in. As usual, TW/CW list will be at the bottom of the post. If you noticed any reading it that I’ve left out, please let me know in the comments or via this form.
The fact that this book is a novel written in verse makes it all the more impressive to me how well the characters are each developed. Each individual character has their own personality that is fully fleshed out through the book. I really enjoyed seeing the characters come to life through Xiomara’s understanding of them. I also really enjoyed seeing Xiomara’s character being built up through her impressions of and reactions to her world. We get to see a lot of her fluctuating emotions, which I haven’t gotten to see so realistically depicted in quite a while.
The story is set in Harlem, New York and doesn’t really travel outside of Xiomara’s neighborhood. Because of this, there is a lot of opportunity for the world to be built up. I was surprised to find myself being fully immersed in it. This is the first novel in verse that has been able to do that for me and I really loved that about it. We get to process Xiomara’s world as she does–as a place that wears a reputation it has long since outgrown and a place that is comforting in its familiarity. It is obvious that she feels at home in her world and allows the reader to process it through that lens.
The story itself is beautiful. It’s a contemporary coming-of-age story, but to simplify it into those few words seems unjust. Xiomara grows so much as a person from the beginning to the end. She develops her love of poetry and her ability to write and perform it. She grows to understand her relationship with Christianity and her mother and others around her. She feels pain and anger and happiness. Elizabeth Acevedo unabashedly portrays real life as many teens experience it and shows that it is possible to achieve a happy middle–I can’t say happy ending because Xiomara’s story obviously continues after the ending of the book.
I listened to the audiobook version of The Poet X while reading it for two reasons. First, because it was narrated by the author, Elizabeth Acevedo, herself and I can never pass up listening to an audiobook the author has narrated. Second, because I’m not used to reading novels in verse. I wanted to be able to read it as it was intended to be read. Elizabeth Acevedo did an amazing job bringing her book to life. I was excited to find out that she also did the narration for her latest book, With The Fire On High, and I’m looking forward to listening to that one as well.
I really enjoyed reading and listening to The Poet X and I’m very glad I picked it from the list of possible books for my class. I ended up listening to it a second time on my commute to work because I really enjoyed it and it’s only a few hours long. I definitely will pick up anything Elizabeth Acevedo puts out from now on!
Overall, I rate The Poet X 5 out of 5 bookworms. But don’t just take my word for it! Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!
Trigger / Content Warnings:
- Burning of books (for censorship purposes)
- Slut shaming
- Sexual Harassment
- Sexual Assault
- Physical and emotional abuse (parent to child)
- Panic attacks