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The Poet X

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Published by HarperTeen, 2018
368 pages
ISBN: 978-0062662804

Age 12 and older

Fifteen-year-old Xiomara is a Dominican American teen living in Harlem. Her twin brother, Xavier, a smart, gentle boy, can do no wrong in their mother’s eyes. Xiomara can do no right. She often feels unseen and misunderstood, even by Xavier despite their closeness and despite the fact she has always defended him, whether from bullies or from their mother’s judgment—thei mother doesn’t know he’s gay. Xiomara is intrigued by the new poetry club started by her English teacher, and by Aman, a boy she meets in biology class. But her mother forbids dating, and insists Xiomara attend Catholic confirmation classes, which take place the same afternoon as the club. Xiomara and Aman connect over music. He sees her, not her developing body which often draws unwanted attention, and he becomes the first person she shares one of her poems with as their secret, out-of-school friendship blossoms into romance. There is an intense emotional arc to this electrifying novel in poems showcasing the emergence of a gifted writer in fictional Xiomara, and in author Acevedo. As Xiomara faces her mother’s scorn, questions her faith, and deals with complications of friendship and romance, her journey is heart-wrenching. Her triumph comes in daring and then demanding to be seen as she asserts her voice within and beyond her family and claims her identity as a poet. ©2018 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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