Review: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
It is always nerve-racking to read a book that so many people have nothing but positive praise for. I ultimately think I didn't get as much out of this read as most others did. Written entirely in verse, The Poet X follows Xiomara, a teenager living in Harlem, New York. She writes her poems in her notebook to express how she feels about her life: her teachers, her twin brother, the boy she likes, her mother, and her faith in God. Initially, I wasn't enjoying myself too much whilst reading. I likely felt resistant to the fact that the entirety of my experience with this book was going to consist of reading poetry; something I haven't done since school as I generally see it as 'not my thing'. Regardless of this mishap, within 50 pages, I was enjoying the experience as the poems are very readable and tell a continuous story. Notably, this book is also an easy one to try out; the formatting results in this book being the an incredibly quick read. I think the entirety of this novel can be described in a sentence: A young girl expresses herself through slam poetry. For me, not enough happened. The love relationship that occurred with Aman fell flat and in fact seemed entirely pointless. Xiomara questions her faith and therefore has a tumultuous relationship with her incredibly religious mother; their low points as a pair were the peaks of the novels interest in my opinion. This didn't feel like enough of a reason for this book to be considered as something I will find particularly memorable or something that I will talk about over and over. It could be down to the fact that I am completely unable to relate to a girl telling her story of self-acceptance when her mother doesn't care to understand who her daughter is; I have never had to hide who I am from my parents and religion has never had any effect on me. Having said this, the majority of books I read have characters I have nothing in common with, yet this one did not feel impactful enough.
The more YA I read, the more I am coming to realise that I do not feel the same weight or impact in the subject matter the book discusses as I would in an adult novel. I have not gained a deeper understanding of difficult relationships with ones mother or ones faith through reading The Poet X. There is no denying that there have been some widely successful hard-hitting contemporary books released for young adult audiences - I've just never found they have hit a point where they are truly diving into the heart of the novels outline. I would recommend this book to poetry lovers and opposite alike, as the fast-faced and clear language does not hold back someone that is not comfortable reading verse. If you enjoy YA, I think The Poet X is one of the most beloved, and therefore should be on your radar. For those that generally don't enjoy young adult, I would say this reads much the same. It could still be worth trying however, as reading an entire book of slam poetry is a new experience and it certainly doesn't take long to finish.
Initial Prediction: 4 stars
Final Rating: 3 stars
Publication Date: 6 March 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Poetry
# of Pages: 361