The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Photo Credit: Amazon

Bibliographic Information:

Title: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

ISBN: 978-0062662811

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Publishing Date: 2018

Genre/Format of the Item: Book


Realistic Fiction


The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Pura Belpre Award 2019

Michael L. Printz award for excellence in Young Adult Literature

2019 Walter Award

The Carnegie Medal

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award

Reading Level/Interest Level:

Grades 7-12 (NoveList)

Plot Summary: Xiomara Batista lives in Harlem with her twin brother and her parents (her mother is a strict Catholic while her dad is emotionally absent). She has learned to face the world with a fierce exterior and to trust few people. Xiomara is introduced to poetry by a teacher and joins the slam poetry club at school. In poetry, Xiomara finds her voice and an escape from the daily pressures and stressors. Along the way she meets a boy named Aman who opens up a world of romance that she must hide from her family. Xiomara and her cousin are enrolled in Confirmation classes and Xiomara begins to question her faith and the church. Xiomara has many emotional struggles with her mother, including pursuing her love of poetry. Xiomara learns the importance of following her dream and finds a way to bridge the gap with her family.

Author Background: Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City (Blue Flower Arts, n.d.). She is an award-winning author of five books. Acevedo went to George Washington University for her undergrad degree of a BA in Performing Arts. She also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam Champion and was an active participant in the Calloloo Writer’s Workshops. She currently lives in Washington, DC. (Acevedo, n.d.).

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Acevedo

Critical Evaluations: I really enjoyed reading The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. I felt as though writing the book in verse amplified Xiomara’s thoughts and feelings, allowing the reader to better empathize with her experiences. This book offers teens a character who finds the resiliency to look beyond the limitations of her family and to find an outlet that allows her to be her true self. The book tackles many difficult topics, such as racism, misogyny, extreme religious influences, and homophobia. Acevedo does an excellent job of drawing the reader into her book with the very first page. I would definitely recommend this book to teens. I think that it offers an honest and down-to-earth teen perspective written in a different format from most other YA novels. It is highly engaging and inspiring. The format of the book is also appealing because the book is written as poetry. The font and layout changes according to the context of the words which can break up the words so that they seem emphasized at times.

(Epic Reads, 2018)

Creative Use for a Library Program: The library could do a teen event revolving around poetry and its influence on YA literature. Teenagers would be invited to an evening event that introduces Acevedo and her poetry to teens. Teens would learn about some basic concepts in poetry and then write their own poems.

Speedround/Book Trailer: When your name translates to “one who is ready for war”, you don’t walk away from a fight and you don’t let anyone get away with hurting you. Xiomara Batista is no stranger to adversity. Xiomara is desperately looking for a way to define herself beyond her looks and her mother’s overbearing faith. Will the liberation she feels when she is speaking and writing poetry be enough to save her? Read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo to learn more!

(TedxTalks, 2013)

Potential Challenge Issues/Defense Preparations: This book addresses many topics that some people may find inappropriate for teens: sexualization of girls/women, teen sex, and racism. Acevedo’s writing is very emotional and powerful and I would argue that Xiomara’s life and experiences are not unlike what many teens face and experience. Teens want to be able to see themselves in the books that they read and Acevedo has written an exceptional book about the experiences of a Latinx teenager but also about the experiences that many teenage female-identifying people may have.

Reason for Inclusion: There are so many reasons to include The Poet X in this collection. Elizabeth Acevedo is an amazing writer who offers her readers insight into her experiences as Dominican American woman. Acevedo’s poetry is engaging and inspiring and many teens will find her characters very relatable.


Acevedo, E. (n.d.). About. Acevedo Writes.

Blue Flower Arts. (n.d.). Elizabeth Acevedo. Blue Flower Arts.

Epic Reads. (2018, February 13). The Poet X live performance [Video]. YouTube.

TedxTalks. (2013, April 4). Being present: Elizabeth Acevedo at TEDxFoggyBottom [Video]. YouTube.


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