I love children’s or young adult (YA) books for how they make you feel. They are hopeful. They are inspiring. They make you feel heard. They help you calm your chaotic mind by making you focus on a story. And, best of all, you can finish it in a day or less and feel really, really accomplished.
So, often, I browse through the children’s section at bookstores to discover new books and authors. I also stalk friends and relatives who have children, on Instagram and Facebook, to find out what books their little ones are reading. ‘Gangsta Granny’ by David Walliams, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle and ‘The Poet X’ by Elizabeth Acevedo are some children/YA books I read recently. I loved all three. But the one I want to reread and recommend is The Poet X.
The book is about a 15-year-old girl named Xiomara and how disconnected she feels from her family. Her mother is a devout Catholic and wants Xiomara to follow suit. But Xiomara is a tough young girl with a mind of her own. She isn’t going to do anything unless she wants to. She also has a tendency to get into fights. With a lot of emotions bottled up, she tries to work her way through her issues by writing poems—that she keeps hidden in a notebook under her bed. Ultimately, a slam poetry club forces her into sharing her poems and thus revealing her secrets.
Acevedo has written The Poet X in the form of a collection of poems and each poem is a little self-contained story in itself. I’ve marked the bits I’ve loved and rereading them has been a joy. The poems, in their entirety, give you an insight into the mind of a young girl who is trying to find her voice and is unable to conform, even when the stakes are high.
Xiomara is a fascinating character and it often feels like she has somehow managed to get inside your head and is saying the things you have always wanted to say. The other characters—her twin brother who Xiomara refers to as ‘Twin’, her best friend, Caridad, and her English teacher, Ms Galiono—are also fun people to get to know. These characters show you a different side of life, a different way of being. You wish you had someone like them in your life too, to balance out your quirks a bit.
Overall, The Poet X has a lovely message to convey about the importance of staying true to yourself and pursuing your passion against all odds. It’s also about love, change and adapting to that change. Acevedo, through Xiomara, shows you there’s beauty in holding on to your dreams even when there are hundreds of things pulling you in different directions.