Book Review: The Poet X

Since this month is poetry month, I’ve decided to read and do a review on a poem novel. Please remember that poetry isn’t my favorite medium of choice so my review might be colored a little by that.

Overall rating: 4/5
Readability rating: 4/5
Character rating: 4/5
Plot rating: 3/5
Cover rating: 5/5
Would I recommend: Yes. Definitely a good read for those who love poetry and those who think it’s okay. It teeters on that line pretty well.

Goodreads Genres: Poetry, Young Adult, Contemporary

Perfect for: Those who love poetry, love reading about modern life struggles, is a young adult reader.

Book Synopsis from Goodreads: “Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.”

Spoiler-free Review:

The Poet X is a story about Xiomara and her struggles through high school. Her mother is in a relationship with an abusive man while also being absurdly religious. She’s trying to find her way through life and her place in the world while also trying to protect her twin brother, Xavier. They are both trying to find who they are but Xiomara finds her way through poetry. It’s an interesting and heartfelt read. The only issues I had with the novel were how quick the story jumped around (due to the poem narrative) and how quickly and abruptly the ending was.

Spoiler Review

This book is good. It paints the struggles of a young woman, trying to make it through school and every other part of life. It has a lot of conversation about religion which isn’t something I normally can relate to. My family was very open to all ideas and fine with me being religious, spiritual, or none of the above (at least my mother didn’t say anything). So seeing her struggle through her relationship with her mother was devastating.

Plus her mother was in a relationship with someone that was the opposite of godly. He was abusive and a tyrant. The author made the tension in every interaction palpable.

I listened to the audiobook because I couldn’t trust myself to read the book as a series of poems. The author also gave tidbits of information about how things should be read at parts (which I thought interesting and absurdly helpful).

Not only is she clashing with her religious mother and her cultural backgrounds that said if she was anything but prudish she was basically a whore, she fell in love with a boy named Aman.

Meanwhile, her twin brother was combating things that I know so many of my own friends have been through. Figuring out the place of religion, family, and sexuality. Xiomara wants to help and protect him but this is one place she can’t. She can just be there for him. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and one I know all too well being an older sister. Sometimes you can’t fix things.

The book was great overall. It had a fantastic story and something young readers should definitely read (of all backgrounds). The only issues I had were the ending and it being a bit disjointed because it was a series of poems. The ending felt rushed and the anger dissipated too quickly. I was still angry for her after finishing the whole novel. I couldn’t imagine her resolving her emotions that quickly, but that’s the danger of some poetry styles. You skip the entire anger process right after and move on to the next emotional moment.

One thing I took away from this novel was that writing (however you do it) is important to your wellbeing. It was a release for her. She was able to take out her frustrations and her confusion in a way that made sense to her. And if you have children who write and write things you don’t understand. It’s okay. It wasn’t meant for you.

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