Okey Dokey! So it was a second before I blogged, I know it…but I’m still here.
I’ve been busy actually, writing…yes, I do that too, and one day I’ll share something that’s mine. But for now you get to read my witty somewhat sarcastic posts overlaid with a short dose of skepticism and dry humor. You. Are. Welcome.
Today I’m dropping in to fill in a category of the reading challenge I set myself this year. This one is a book of poetry and I think it’s a gem!
So I get the NY Times Best Seller lists and peruse them for possible reading material. The most recent list held some good contenders and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is one of them.
Incidentally I was listening to a Junior Library Guild webinar ‘Discovering the Transformative Power of YA Literature’ with Lucas Klauss, editorial lead of JLG magazine, and he highly recommends Acevedo’s upcoming publication With the Fire on High; one to look out for when it’s published on May 7th.
In the meantime, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me indignant, it made me stop in my tracks to take notes.
Acevedo captures beautifully all of the encompassing emotions surrounding the difficulties of being a teen and trying to figure life out. Our main protagonist Xiomara is a vibrant, beautiful young woman, struggling to understand her own coming of age; trying to make sense of what it is to be a woman; trying to understand what it is to love another person; learning to deal with deep and intense emotions by using words instead of fists; finding a way to make herself heard, when no-one is listening; and learning to grow, even if she doesn’t always realize herself that it is time to do so.
The poetry is sublime:
...reputations last longer than the time it takes to make them – pg. 35
…she caries herself big…like she’s used to shouldering her way through any assumptions made about her – pg. 37
My hands learned how to bleed when other kids tried to make him into a wound – pg. 45
…she might wonder at this curse. At how her blood is always becoming some fake hero’s mission – p.g 45
I’ve forced my skin just as thick as I am – pg. 5
And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them – pg. 188
And my favorite quote from this book:
…but most importantly she should be remembered as always working to become the warrior she wanted to be – pg. 126
This is a fabulous read. The characters of the mother and of the father are both realistic, unresolved and tremendously emotionally charged. The role of religion, and at times of its absence in this story, is brilliant. The identification of loving and supportive adult role models is also well used. As is the introduction of sibling and peer sexuality and gender identity.
This is a beautiful use of poetry to capture the essence of life as a first generation Dominican-American teen, questioning one’s identity and where one can find a voice in one’s own world. Clearly, Acevedo has poured her heart into this and has some deep dimension of personal experience here. It really shows.
Please pick up a copy of this book and have a gander. I really couldn’t put it down and I will be ‘that reader’ eagerly awaiting until May when Acevedo’s next publication is released.