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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

After being blown away by With the Fire on High and Clap When You Land, I finally had the chance to read Poet X.

Xiomara is at a pivotal time in her life where what she wants is at odds with everything else: her mother's wants for her, her teacher's desire for her to join Poetry Club, her priest's path to being confirmed, society's insistence on who she should be, the boys and men who tell her that her body dictates the kind of woman she'll be. Through her poetry, Xiomara questions the world around her, carefully working through her own feelings, fears, and questions with bald curiosity and heartbreaking truth. Rarely have I found an author who can elicit such an emotional response, but Elizabeth Acevedo is some sort of word wizard who leaves me in tears. X is such a powerful character, and her exploration of herself resounded on so many levels. Physically, having no control over her body yet being judged, criticized, and labeled because of it. How other people feel like they have the right to do those things. Her struggle with religion--being raised in a Catholic home is an experience. In many ways, X's mother is similar to a stage mom, except instead of a pageant, she pushes her own failed desires to be a nun onto her daughter. There's a certain pressure to blindly accept the faith when your entire family is Catholic and has always gone to church, but X questions what she's told as fact, and in her doubt, I saw myself. Acevedo's writing is beautiful, lyrical, and powerful. From the subtle connections that run like a string through her chapters to the striking metaphors, hers is a talent unrivaled. And it's so readable--I finished this book in a few sittings because pages pour together and before you know it, you're halfway through and ugly crying about first love and obligations. Overall, The Poet X is a winner. 10/10 will read again. My only regret is that I have to wait for her next book.


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