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The Poet X
Cover of The Poet X
The Poet X

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award!

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

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award!

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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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Acevedo is the author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the Michael J. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. She is a National Poetry Slam champion and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo lives with her partner in Washington, DC. You can find out more about her at www.acevedowrites.com.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2018
    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)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 22, 2018
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    Gr 7 Up-Magnificently crafted, Acevedo's bildungsroman in verse is a stunning account of a teen girl's path to poetry. Sophomore Xiomara Batista is simultaneously invisible and hyper visible at home, school, and in her largely Dominican community in Harlem-her body is "unhide-able" she tells readers early on, yet she bristles at how others project their desires, insecurities, failures, patriarchal attitudes toward her. Though she is quick to battle and defend herself and her twin brother Xavier, Xiomara's inner life sensitively grapples with these projections and the expectations of her strict, religious mother. Acevedo's depiction of a faith in crisis is exceedingly relatable and teens, especially those going through the sacrament of Confirmation, will deeply appreciate Xiomara's thoughtful questioning of the Church and how it treats women. Forbidden kisses with a crush and an impromptu performance at an open mic prove to be euphoric, affirming moments for Xiomara: "it's beautiful and real and what I wanted." Acevedo's poetry is skillfully and gorgeously crafted, each verse can be savored on its own, but together they create a portrait of a young poet sure to resonate with readers long after the book's end. VERDICT Truly a "lantern glowing in the dark" for aspiring poets everywhere. All YA collections will want to share and treasure this profoundly moving work.-Della Farrell, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • New York Times Book Review "The force and intensity behind her words practically pushes them off the page, resulting in a verse novel that is felt as much as it is heard. This is a book from the heart, and for the heart."
  • Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak and Chains "A story that will slam the power of poetry and love back into your heart."
  • Justina Ireland, author of Dread Nation "Crackles with energy and snaps with authenticity and voice. Every poem in this stunningly addictive and deliciously rhythmic verse novel begs to be read aloud. Xiomara is a protagonist who readers will cheer for at every turn. As X might say, Acevedo's got bars. Don't pass this one by."
  • Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street "In The Poet X, Acevedo skillfully sculpts powerful, self-contained poems into a masterpiece of a story, and has amplified the voices of girls en el barrio who are equal parts goddess, saint, warrior, and hero."
  • Jason Reynolds, author of National Book Award Finalist Ghost "Though vivid with detail about family, love, and culture, The Poet X is more of an exploration of when the poet becomes the poem... Acevedo delivers an incredibly potent debut."
  • Daniel José Older, author of the Shadowshaper Cypher series "A glorious achievement. This is a story about what it means to be a writer and how to survive when it feels like the whole world's turned against you."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) ★ "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."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) ★ "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."
  • Horn Book (starred review) ★ "In nearly every poem, there is at least one universal truth about adolescence, family, gender, race, religion, or sexuality that will have readers either nodding in grateful acknowledgment or blinking away tears."
  • Shelf Awareness (starred review) "The Poet X is beautiful and true—a splendid debut."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "Acevedo plays with language, form, and space in a way that commands attention, pulling readers from one emotional extreme to the next without pause or remorse... Readers will applaud Xiomara as she journeys from a place of cautious defensiveness to being confident in the power of her voice."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "Acevedo's poetry is skillfully and gorgeously crafted, each verse can be savored on its own, but together they create a portrait of a young poet sure to resonate with readers long after the book's end."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "The Poet X is beautiful and true—a splendid debut."
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