“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo is a coming-of-age novel that expertly showcases the teenage life of a girl of color who’s first-generation American scared to share her true voice due to family expectations.
Xiomara is a Dominican teenager living in New York City with the gift of poetry she feels she can’t share with the world because she has to please her strict parents. Her religious mother makes Xiomara and her twin brother Xavier aka Twin attend after-school bible lessons. Xiomara is rough around the edges while Twin is active in his religious lessons and goes to a high-performing school, so Xiomara suppresses her love for poetry, especially since Poetry Club coincides with her religious classes. Her young teacher, Ms. Galliano, inspires her to find her voice, and when she does, Xiomara is falling in love with her classmate Aman, which is another no-no under her religious household. When Xiomara begins skipping church for poetry, her world begins to crumble as she realizes she can’t be the pure Catholic Dominican girl her parents want her to be.
This is a great YA novel with the necessary elements describing the hardships of an adolescent girl of color struggling with being American and also having immigrant parents going by the stricter rules of their homeland. I read it on audio book, so the characters’ names may not be spelled correctly, but the author does a fabulous job in her poetic prose-y voice, so definitely recommend the audio book.