#AA2019 Nominees Round Up, May 30 Edition

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo
Audio Published by Harper Audio
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
ISBN: 9780062822499

Xiomara Batista is struggling–in school, where she is getting noticed in a way she never wanted to, ever since her body got curvier; at home, where her parents don’t understand her and her twin brother is growing distant; and at church, where Xiomara’s mother is forcing her to go to confirmation classes even though she’s not sure of her religious beliefs. What does make Xiomara feel seen is a boy in her biology class, Aman, and a teacher, Ms. Galiano, who invites her to join a slam poetry club. But to forge a relationship with Aman and to become a poet requires lying to her mother. And though Xiomara knows that her mother’s rules are hurting her, she doesn’t want to outright hurt her mother in return.

A novel in verse about learning to write verse is a sure sell. Listening to author Elizabeth Acevedo’s narration of her own book is like being at a Bronx poetry slam, with varying tones and speeds and intensities that make the book whirl by. Her ease in code-switching matches Xiomara’s own, and the production sounds less like an audiobook and more like listening to a friend catch you up on the goings-on in her life. The Poet X is a smart, fresh take on novels in verse, and it will stand out further for its critique of rape culture and gender roles.

Suggest The Poet X to reluctant readers, yes, but also to any young feminist whose favorite authors include Renée Watson, Lilliam Rivera, Isabel Quintero, or Courtney Summers.

–Sarah Hannah Gómez