Genre: Verse

Thursday, March 08, 2018

All Five Stars: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Posted by 4 Comments

I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

All Five Stars: The Poet X by Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Published by HarperTeen on March 6th, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Verse, YA
Source: HarperTeen
Buy on Amazon

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.

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, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she 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.

I am a finnick-y asshole when it comes to rating books 5 stars which isn’t necessarily because I don’t love books but I want to reserve that 5 stars for a book that is something that I am going to remember for a long time after I close the last page shut. The Poet X is just one of those books you are gonna come out of feeling something. I don’t share the same identities as the main character and yet the way Xiomara navigates her diaspora completely moved me. The way her story was told made me feel seen and validated.

The Poet X is told in verse and yet it tells an overarching story that I am not sure prose could have done justice to. Acevedo is incredibly talented to say the least and her poetry is on a whole new level. I’ve dabbled in reading verse novels but The Poet X definitely stands out.

Has anyone ever felt that writing a review for a 5 star book is easy? IF SO, PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR SKILLS because I am not entirely sure how or what I should even gush about because there is SO MUCH to unpack.

At it’s heart, this book pays homage to slam poetry. It is essentially Xiomara’s diary but written in verse. Through these poems, we get intimate access to her world and her thoughts. There is so much going on in Xiomara’s life as she attempts to balance all her identities. She is a twin, daughter of Dominican immigrants, a miracle child, catholic and a poet. All those identities seem to be pulling at her and stretching her thin.

Her parents expectations of her don’t align with her desires and her personal goals. This also causes friction between Xiomara and her twin because he is not treated the same way by her parents that she is. They have different expectations of him and are constantly setting them up against each other.

Xiomara wants to be kissed for the first time, she wants to fall in love, and she wants to pursue her interests, she wants to be a normal teenager but her parents make that a lot harder than it should be. Old clashes with the new as Xiomara learns how to navigate her identities in a way that allows her to be her best self.

Honestly, I don’t even know how to do justice to this book with my words. The Poet X such a poignant look at diaspora and what it’s like to be born to immigrant parents. Of course, Xiomara’s experience is only one of many out there but that doesn’t make it less valid and less moving.

I want to hug this book, cuddle it and give it to everyone because I love it so much. Some people might find aspects of this book over the top but that doesn’t mean these experiences are any less real for someone out there and I hope people will give this enthralling novel the attention it DESERVES.


5 Hot Espressos

Centers the White Person’s Experience: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Posted by on 02/27/2018 • 3 Comments

Here is my thing with this short collection of poems. It’s good. It’s really good. It is also extremely creative and Lovelace’s talent really shines through with the poems. The problem I had and why I don’t actually know what to rate the collection of poems is that it also felt like it was very much the narrative of a white, cishet person.

Amanda Lovelace is a white woman which explains this and I wouldn’t ask her to write from a POC perspective when she really really REALLY cannot claim those experiences. EDIT: I was informed that Amanda Lovelace is demigirl, demisexual, and demiromantic and I wrongly assumed her identity for which I apologize. She does try to not forget her non white cishet counterparts within her poems, which is appreciated…

Review: Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Review: Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

Posted by on 08/28/2014 • 18 Comments

I missed the fact that this was a verse novel before I started it, but for me this was a pleasant surprise. Having been introduced to verse novels only recently, I’ve developed a liking to them. I love how raw, honest, and candid they are. Plus they feel like extremely quick reads, as if you’re just flying through. This one in particular, at only 220 some odd pages, can be read in mere minutes. The disadvantage of such a short novel, though, is that it lacks the emotional oomph and depth that I usually feel with verse writing. It does touch on an delicate subject matter – cutting as a fad – but it fails to deliver something truly poignant.

This is the story of Kenna who was caught in…

Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Review: Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Posted by on 07/31/2014 • 16 Comments

Having been introduced to the world of verse writing by Ellen’s Crank series, I was excited to read some more of her work. While the Crank series will likely always remain my favorite, Rumble was very emotional and touches on important issues.

Ever since his brother committed suicide, Matthew and his family seem like a lost cause. We’re introduced to this broken, angry teenage boy who, despite his flaws, burrows into our hearts from the very start. His brother’s death has made him extremely angry – angry at his parents for not accepting his brother’s homosexuality, at the kids that bullied him, at god for turning his back on him. It’s a very angry novel, and one that is miles deep with a level of maturity that would make this…

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Posted by on 02/17/2014 • 19 Comments

Oh Hopkins, what have you done?! I became a huge fan of Ellen Hopkins last year. Impulse is the 5th novel I have read by her and the first that has left me so torn on my feelings for it. Basically what it boils down to is that I liked the idea behind the novel and I think that the way the mental issues and suicide were approached was done very well. What didn’t end up working quite so well for me was a lot of the interactions between the characters.

So first, what I liked here. Well I really liked that Hopkins stayed true to her brutally honest self. There are things that I read in this book that were so ugly that I had to read them twice…

Review: Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams

Posted by on 01/29/2014 • 20 Comments

I read two of Carol Lynch Williams’ books last year and I quickly became a fan of her as an author. This year I decided to venture into her verse stuff at the urging of Bekka from Great Imaginations. Since opening myself up to verse novels much more over the holidays I was more open to the idea and I am so happy that Bekka recommended this one to me.

Waiting is the story of London’s life in the aftermath of her brother’s death. The novel starts with a very bleak feel and I felt so sad as we looked in on London’s life. Since her brother’s passing her mother can’t even look at her and her father is never home. There was an intense darkness to the story and…

Review: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Review: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Posted by on 01/23/2014 • 18 Comments

I thought I had been a good blogger when I went out and bought the first book in each of Ellen Hopkins series. I even covered all my bases and bought her standalones as well. Well now look at me sitting here kicking myself because I’ve finished Burned and I don’t have the sequel to jump into immediately. Burned is the heartbreaking tale of Pattyn Von Stratten, a young girl raised in a strict mormon household who begins to question the way that her family lives and they way that her father treats all of the women in his life.

I’m not usually a fan of books that deal heavily with religion, but I always appreciate when a character is questioning the way that they have been brought up. Pattyn…