Elizabeth Acevedo "The Poet X"
This novel in verse by the slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, the journal of a teenage girl facing a personal crisis, won several awards for Young People’s Literature including the prestigious Carnegie Medal.
Xiomara, whose name means “one who is ready for war”, an Afro Latina with Dominican roots, lives in Harlem with her parents and her genius twin brother. Her mother is very religious and wants Xiomara to behave like a pious female Catholic, but Xiomara is growing up and her mother’s strict code of conduct is stifling her and this makes her start this journal not only to come to terms with her conflicting emotions, but also because she loves writing and expressing herself in slam poetry lines.
When Xiomara’s teacher suggests she should take part in a slam poetry contest, she begins to feel more confident and allows herself to confess her “forbidden” feelings for her classmate Aman, which she expresses in her journal.
However, things get ugly when her mother learns that Xiomara has not been to her confirmation lessons and reads her journal. In a bitter fight Xiomara stands her ground and although the ending is far from a happy one, the girl has succeeded in defending her right to speak up and start her own life. She is the one “who is ready for war” and has won a victory.
Acevedo’s verse is highly convincing and genuine. Her language is powerful and enables the reader to relate to Xiomara’s problems without damning her surroundings. This writer is worth noticing and interested readers can also listen to her slamming parts of this book on YouTube.
A highly recommendable and emotional read!