Book Review: The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

Publisher: Egmont Books
Format: MOBI
Release Date: May 3rd, 2018

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I read this book in 24 hours. I absolutely devoured this, and that’s not something I would normally do. This book is all about voice, and Xiomara’s voice is truly and utterly, fully bought to life here in a really unique way. I’m just ashamed this was sitting on my TBR for so long.

With The Poet X, Acevado has written a powerful, coming of age story about a young Black woman who uses poetry to understand the world around her. It’s a true journey, and one that starts with X as a girl who doesn’t speak often, and ends with her pushing her words out into the world.

The poetry here is wonderful, and I really am tempted by the audiobook version – this is a book that deserves to be spoken and heard out loud. The words flow so well, each – as it should in poetry – feeling carefully selected, but in a natural way. There are techniques which work well here that wouldn’t in prose, and it really manages to bring a lovely balance to the two.

Through the book, Xiomara learns more about herself, her world, her family, while pushing herself to her own edges. She starts off as someone who doesn’t talk much, but leans into her fists to say what she can’t. Her journey is one many young women would be familiar with, as she battles against her upbringing to discover and become the woman she truly is.

The style really emphasises aspects of the character, and it’s easy to imagine the events as they happen, as Xiomara questions her relationships with her family, her peers, and God, either encouraged or discouraged by those around her. It’s written in a way that the pace is up to the reader – you can move through it fairly quickly, but there are many moments which deserve the reader slowing down and really absorbing the words on the page.

Every book needs elements of tension, and Acevedo really does well with this, giving moments where it becomes impossible to put it down, leaving the reader keen to discover what is going to happen next and how Xiomara is going to deal with it. I loved the use of language, the portrayals, and the way we see this community and neighbourhood completely through Xiomara’s eyes.

Each character feels different and unique, especially in their relationships to Xiomara, and we get to witness the way she expects them to react to her and the way they really do. I know I’ve used this word above, but powerful really is a good word to describe this, in both the plot and style. And the way each poem stands on its own, slightly different from one another rather than blending into each other, ensures our reactions to each poem are exactly how Acevedo wants us to react.

The Poet X is a truly wonderful, beautifully unique book, with an excellent main character and really strong voice at its core. If you haven’t yet checked this out, it’s well worth devoting time to doing so.

Thank you to Egmont Books for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley.


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