The Poet X

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Review

Xiomara, a fierce teenage girl of Dominican heritage, is starting to notice boys, but her strict Catholic parents have decided that there will be absolutely no contact with the opposite sex until marriage. Her twin brother, always the apple of their parents’ eye, is also struggling with his own emergent attraction to another boy.

Yet when Xiomara sits next to Aman in science class, she can’t deny the attraction – and starts to question why she would want to. At the same time, a new teacher at school starts a slam poetry club, and Xiomara’s notebook, filled with the poetry she is too shy to share with anyone, yearns to be shouted, sung, confessed.

A verse novel that sings with the rhythms of slam poetry, Xiomara’s powerful and affecting story expresses what it’s like to be a teen girl suddenly in possession of a woman’s body, noticed and commented on by men. It also considers how her religious parents’ expectations for Xiomara as a young woman constrain her (and them) in ways that have to be newly negotiated.

It’s refreshing to read a teen book where the protagonist deals openly with religion alongside first love and the blossoming of her own artistic talents.

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