To Be Read: The Poet X Intertwines Race, Religion, and Sexuality

Ella Terry, junior editor, is the JagWire’s lead book critic. Over the coming year, she will be highlighting books that may not be typically read in classroom settings but which students may enjoy.

Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel, The Poet X, is a simple, yet impactful story about a young girl who wants her voice to be heard. Xiomara Batista is a junior in high school who has a lot to say and expresses herself through poetry. However, with a strict, religious Dominican mother, a father who doesn’t say much and her twin brother who just doesn’t seem to get her, Xiomara doesn’t feel like she can share her poems. When she sees a flyer for a slam poetry club at her school, she begins to feel conflicted about her supposed religious responsibility and her role at home and in school. 

Written in verse, something that I typically shy away from, this book encapsulates Xiomara’s thoughts and intense emotions in a way that wouldn’t be possible had it been written in prose. The way Acevedo uses poetry to communicate the plot of the book allows the reader to fly through, while also taking the time to really digest what is being said. The poetry makes the story seem more personal, as though the reader is being let into Xiomara’s deepest, most secretive thoughts. The book intertwines topics like religion, sexuality and expression throughout it making for a powerful piece that reflects on one girl’s experience moving through the world. 

Ella Terry is a managing editor for the Jagwire. She’s a junior and this is her second year on the staff. She is an avid reader and loves cats and all things Harry Potter. She loves to bake and thoroughly enjoyed the release of Frozen 2.
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