One of the worst things about being a girl with a super religious mother is all the crazy rules you have to follow. One of them is absolutely no dating. Poet Elizabeth Acevedo tackles this theme in her debut novel The Poet X which while it has some nice ideas falls flat.
Xiomara Batista is a Latina teenager living in Harlem. Her mother’s super religious, all the men around her are horndogs because she’s, ahem, very developed, her dad only cares about baseball and she has a temper. She also didn’t do her confirmation because of a bunch of reasons. Her faith gets questioned when she falls for a guy in her science class and she starts having lustrous thoughts.
This is a basic YA story about a girl with a gift for poetry but can’t go to the poetry slam her teacher wants her to go to because she has church and confirmation classes. Not to mention the boyfriend which she keeps as a secret. This is a book that is strictly for teenage girls and anyone who has had to deal with parents like this.
That doesn’t mean the story has any solid ideas. Xiomara is a poet but because of her confirmation classes she can’t go to poetry club or the poetry slam. This is something some girls with strict religious parents have to deal with. This is the right book for them.
This book has a distinct feature in being written in verse. While there is no rhyme scheme if you read the book out loud you can hear in your own voice that this sounds like something you’d hear at a poetry slam in any big city. That’s a major point that Acevedo receives.
However the ending is a bit too weak and unrealistic. Whatever problem Xiomara had throughout the book is easily fixed and whatever negative feeling she had is easily fixed. Granted, this is meant to be a simple story grounded n real life, but sometimes problems like the ones Xiomara has don’t get fixed that easily or quickly. Those take years and sometimes they don’t get fixed at all.
For a debut novel, The Poet X has a clever idea in that it’s written in verse but the content of the story is flat. Again, teenage girls will relate with this story but overall it’s way too basic with am easy, saccharine ending that doesn’t seem realistic. Acevedo has promise, but she needs to pull out something amazing if she decides to write a followup novel.