The Poet X is a novel-in-verse of Xiomara, a 16-year-old Latina growing up with her twin brother in NYC. Their parents are first-generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and Mami and Papi rule the family like many other first-generation Latinx parents: steeped in the traditions of the past, a healthy dose of Catholic fear, and not quite understanding the culture their kids are growing up in. Xiomara is a pretty good kid. Not as good as her devout bestie or her genius brother, but a decent student and someone who follows most of her parents' rules. However, she invites trouble into her life when feelings emerge for her science-lab partner, Aman. The reader understands how she struggles with desire and not wanting to "put out" like a lot of the girls in her neighborhood do. Nevertheless, her secret does blow up her life when Mami finds out about Aman. Will Xiomara find her voice again? Will she get a happily ever after or will Mami send her to the DR as punishment?
Wow. Just. Wow. No wonder The Poet X has won so many awards this past year, and they are so deserved! The language, the poetry, the imagery are all stunning.
Aside from the beautiful language, my favorite part of The Poet X is all the questions Xiomara asks about religion. Her doubt is not met with scare tactics from the priest (Mami is much less open-minded), and he even encourages her to ask more questions and think on her doubts before continuing with the confirmation sacrament. It's so refreshing to see how it plays into Xiomara and her understanding of her world-- these questions help her frame her understanding of how she fits into the world and how she finds her voice in her poetry. It's just so beautifully done by Acevedo.