The Poet X
The Poet X
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Annotation: When Xiomara Batista, who pours all her frustrations and passion into poetry, is invited to join the school slam poetry club, she struggles with her mother's expectations and her need to be heard.
Catalog Number: #154251
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 361 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-266280-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-266280-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017943585
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
This coming-of-age story from the streets of Harlem centers on Xiomara Barista, a teenage poet seeking to express herself. X has loved writing down her thoughts from an early age. Unfortunately, she doesn't get to share them with her family, due to her mother's strict dedication to making sure X is focused on being a good Catholic girl. When X starts questioning her faith and realizes her brother is hiding his own secrets from their mother, she starts figuring out how she can stand up for herself and her beliefs. The story, though centered around the family drama, explores other poignant themes facing girls today, diving into human sexuality, the psychological impacts of going through an early puberty, and how girls have to fend off advances from men well as the slut-shaming stigma that simultaneously can come from women. Ultimately, though, this is a powerful, heartwarming tale of a girl not afraid to reach out and figure out her place in the world.
Horn Book
Fifteen-year-old Xiomara, a self-described "brown and big and angry" Dominican girl from Harlem, finds peace in writing poetry. The slow-burning suspense of what will transpire when devout Catholic Mami discovers Xiomara's clandestine relationship with a classmate is eclipsed only by the devastation that occurs when Mami reads Xiomara's candid poetry journal. Acevedo's debut verse novel is an arresting portrait of a young poet coming into her own.
Publishers Weekly
Harlem sophomore Xiomara Batista isn-t saintly like her virtuous twin brother. And her tough exterior-she-s always ready to fend off unwelcome advances and unkind words-hides questions and insecurities. As her confirmation nears (after two failed attempts), Xiomara begins to voice her uncertainties about the Catholic faith and patriarchal piety pressed on her by her mother and the church. Both intrigued and disgusted by the advances of her peers and older men, she begins a secret relationship with her lab partner Aman, who seems interested in more than her curves (-who knew words,/ when said by the right person,/ by a boy who raises your temperature,/ moves heat like nothing else?-). Xiomara pours her innermost self into poems and dreams of competing in poetry slams, a passion she-s certain her conservative Dominican parents will never accept. Debut novelist Acevedo-s free verse gives Xiomara-s coming-of-age story an undeniable pull, its emotionally charged bluntness reflecting her determination and strength. At its heart, this is a complex and sometimes painful exploration of love in its many forms, with Xiomara-s growing love for herself reigning supreme. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Poetry helps first-generation Dominican-American teen Xiomara Batista come into her own.Fifteen-year old Xiomara ("See-oh-MAH-ruh," as she constantly instructs teachers on the first day of school) is used to standing out: she's tall with "a little too much body for a young girl." Street harassed by both boys and grown men and just plain harassed by girls, she copes with her fists. In this novel in verse, Acevedo examines the toxicity of the "strong black woman" trope, highlighting the ways Xiomara's seeming unbreakability doesn't allow space for her humanity. The only place Xiomara feels like herself and heard is in her poetry—and later with her love interest, Aman (a Trinidadian immigrant who, refreshingly, is a couple inches shorter than her). At church and at home, she's stifled by her intensely Catholic mother's rules and fear of sexuality. Her present-but-absent father and even her brother, Twin (yes, her actual twin), are both emotionally unavailable. Though she finds support in a dedicated teacher, in Aman, and in a poetry club and spoken-word competition, it's Xiomara herself who finally gathers the resources she needs to solve her problems. The happy ending is not a neat one, making it both realistic and satisfying. Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance. Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara's name: "one who is ready for war." (Verse fiction. 14-18)
Word Count: 33,017
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 195165 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.3 / points:10.0 / quiz:Q72794
Lexile: HL800L

National Book Award Winner!

Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.

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. But she still 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.

“Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice.” —Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation

“An incredibly potent debut.” Jason Reynolds, author of the National Book Award Finalist Ghost

“Acevedo has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero.” Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street


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