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The Poet X  By  cover art

The Poet X

By: Elizabeth Acevedo
Narrated by: Elizabeth Acevedo
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Editorial review

By Tirzah Price


This novel-in-verse is narrated by the author, which isn't very common for young adult fiction and so came as a surprise. But after listening to this book just once, I truly believe that no one but the author could narrate this stunning novel, which simmers with truth and energy, and do it justice. Elizabeth Acevedo draws on her own experience growing up as the child of Dominican parents living in Harlem, New York, to create her main character. Xiomara is a force to be reckoned with and too often, seen as difficult, a problem to be fixed or someone to be controlled. Told from a young age "pero, tú no eres fácil," Xiomara has learned to stifle her thoughts, her questions, and in some cases, her creativity in order to satisfy her mother's exacting demands that she be a good Catholic girl.

Of course, keeping quiet and following her mother's rules can only work for so long. Xiomara's world opens up when she is invited to join an after-school poetry club—held at the same time as her religious Confirmation classes, a required extracurricular—and then starts to fall for a classmate that her mother most definitely will not approve of. The tension of her desires and the growing urgency of her poetic voice clash with the rigid expectations that her mother holds her to—expectations that feel unfair, especially compared to the leniency her twin brother is granted as a boy.

I consider myself lucky that The Poet X is the novel that opened my eyes—and ears—to the power of audiobooks. Acevedo's narration captured my attention so wholly I found myself sitting in my car, listening, long after I arrived at my destination. Elizabeth Acevedo has since published more novels and poetry, and, luckily for all of us, she's had a hand in narrating each one.

Continue reading Tirzah's review >

Publisher's summary

Don't miss this acclaimed audiobook, read by the author-winner of an Odyssey Honor and an AudioFile Earphones Award winner!

The Poet X is also the 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 #ownvoices 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, whom 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)

This young adult novel, a selection of the Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List, is an excellent choice for accelerated tween readers in grades six to eight, in the classroom or for homeschooling.

Plus don't miss Elizabeth Acevedo's With the Fire on High and Clap When You Land!

©2018 Elizabeth Acevedo (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"The author's passion and pacing unite in her rhythmic reading of linked free-verse poems telling the story of Xiomara Barista. The author, a performance poet, and her heroine possess a gift for arranging words, sequencing sounds, and enriching both with emotions.... The subject, tone, form, and expression of this audiobook are diverse and poignant." (AudioFile)

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Editorial Review

Fifteen-year-old Xiomara Batista wants to be a poet and has already started writing, but life isn’t quite as simple as that. A powerful novel-in-verse that has slayed all before it, The Poet X is young adult fiction at its most impactful.
In a word? Astonishing. Written and narrated by Dominican-American poet and author Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X is a stunning novel-in-verse that has raked in the awards from the moment it was unleashed on the world. It is no great surprise, such is the power and poise of The Poet X, an incredible young adult fiction audiobook for listeners of all ages.
Fifteen-year-old Xiomara Batista isn’t going to stand in silence any longer. Tucked away in Harlem, New York City, Xiomara has embraced her developing physicality and growing confidence, although much of what she wants to say is confined to the pages of a dog-eared leather notebook. You can call it a diary if you must, but it is more so a collection of mantras and prayers that take the listener directly to Xiomara Batista’s heart. And when the young girl catches feelings for Aman in one of her classes? All bets are off. After all, Mami’s commitment to the church means Xiomara can’t exactly let her feelings for Aman flow forth. For now, the notebook will have to suffice. For now, for now…
Everything changes when Xiomara is invited to join the slam poetry club at school, a calling that conflicts with Mami’s wishes for her child. Will Afro-Latina heroine Xiomara Batista find peace in poetry? Where does twin brother Xavier fit into all of this? The Poet X is a stunning listen from start to finish, a coming-of-age story unlike any other, inspirational and engaging in equal measure. Elizabeth Acevedo is a star in the making, and The Poet X is a debut novel of free verse worth paying attention to. —Audible Latino Editor.