Steve Tetreault's Reviews > The Poet X

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
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really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, female, minority, own-voices, realistic-fiction, verse, young-adult

What it's about: Fifteen year old Xiomara is trying to figure out her place in the world. The daughter of Dominican immigrants living in New York, her physical size and bodily development has made her stand out, even though she may not want to. But she is not going to let others dictate how she lives or who she is. Except Xiomara doesn't know quite who she is. Her mother wants her to be a devote Catholic "good girl". Her father wants her to be less in the way. Her teachers want her to be more vocal. Her best friend Caridad, her twin brother Xavier, and her maybe-boyfriend Aman want her to be who she is. The one place she feels like herself is in her journal, writing poetry.

As Xiomara tries to navigate a new year of high school, her wishes and desires are running in direct opposition to her mother's rules and her church's teachings. Although Xiomara doesn't want to go against her mother or her faith, she is having a hard time figuring out what the right path is.

What I thought: It was refreshing to read a realistic fiction YA title that is not only grounded, but also thoughtful about how the world is not really made to help young women find their way. Xiomara doesn't just deal with difficulties at school, or with her family, or with her faith; she also deals with the internal conflicts that arise as young women begin to enter adulthood, and how that can put strain on all of one's relationships.

I particularly appreciated how Xiomara is attempting to feel her way through the minefield that is her nascent adult sexuality. Acevedo has carefully and thoughtfully captured the awakening of a young woman's desire and how that echoes across her understanding of herself. At the same time, Xiomara is never even remotely defined by her sexuality or desires; she is a fully realized young woman with deep reserves of strength. But those reserves are tested, and it's a testament to Acevedo's writing that those tests and difficulties not only feel real, but also bring the reader into their own moments of self-doubt, those times when we all have thought to ourselves, "Won't someone step in and help me?" Xiomara's journey throughout this verse novel follows her through moments of strength and triumph, as well as moments of doubt and weakness.

Why I rated it like I did: This is, in short, a wonderfully realized piece of contemporary realistic fiction that young adults will not only enjoy, but might also learn from.
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Reading Progress

June 8, 2019 – Shelved
June 8, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
July 11, 2019 – Started Reading
July 11, 2019 – Finished Reading
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: coming-of-age
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: female
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: minority
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: own-voices
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: realistic-fiction
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: verse
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult

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