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Presented by State Library Victoria

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo Book Review

***TRIGGER WARNING FOR ABUSE***

Okay I’m not going to lie here when I say I have very mixed feelings about this one. There were things the author did so well and other things I absolutely passionately disliked. I was going to rate this overall a two star read going through the middle parts of the novel but now I’m probably rating it a 0.5 more than my original rating after finishing just now.

Because I finished just now the storyline is still fresh in my mind. I binge read about 50 pages just in the last 30 minutes alone. I’ll try to be as discreet as possible while stating the aspects of the novel I liked and disliked. However, most of these aspects come with a negative or positive to them.

TWIN-RELATIONSHIPS

I loved the dynamics between Xiomara and “Twin” (who’s real name is Xavier but is commonly referred to as Twin by the main character) I loved how they communicated and how they were always there for one another and I think we need to see that more in YA books in general.

But the downside to all this was there was not much of it or at least I wanted more about Twin and Xiomara’s connection but I guess you get what you get, you can’t really complain.

LGBTQ+ REP 

LGBTQ+ Rep is always a win for me it’s a genre of which is growing and needs to grow. Even in books nowadays there is always at least one character that is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender etc. Yes there was a character who was LGBTQ+ but it was briefly mentioned like “oh I always suspected […] to like the same sex.” and when something (that shall go unnamed for spoilery purposes) happened to that character there wasn’t much support for them. Yes, but to some extent. I wish the main character wasn’t so focused on her own romance plot so that she could help “LGBTQ+ character”

Which leads me to my other point….

LOVE AND ROMANCE 
Okay… *breathes* this may be quite a bit of a rant, I don’t know how this is going to go. But look, if you read my book reviews frequently you’d know that my love for well…. love is very fragile. I tend not to enjoy reading “straight romances” and go for LGBTQ+ ones. LGBTQ+ romances are cute and fluffy and they don’t have the unnecessary lust of a stereotypical straight romanced novel (you can see lust in epic fantasy novels mostly) As someone who isn’t nor has been in a romantic relationship, I don’t understand the desire to “touch and feel” another person’s body and it’s weird (for me personally) to read things especially if they have things like “I saw him and immediately my heart fluttered” or “His fingertips brushed my thigh and suddenly I got shivers that had nothing to do with the cold weather.” honestly? If you want me to cringe and eyeroll hand me a romance-lusty book and I’ll do just that.

I cannot relate to these “intense feelings” and given Xiomara is not that much older than me myself (in fact we would’ve been the same age) I found myself screaming at the page asking “what the heck? Aren’t you a bit too young to have lustful desires?” Call me innocent or whatever but I don’t think fifteen year olds feel that way really. Seventeen to I don’t know adulthood yes but seriously? To me it was unrealistic but I know it hasn’t been unheard of. I just got angry that someone who was supposed to be a “teenager” and MY AGE acted so well… NOT my age.

But in this book romance was barely developed it was like “he brushed my thigh” then “I kissed him” then “We are dating” and I was just sitting here wondering “HAVE I MISSED SOMETHING???” it seemed way too speedy which is another massive pet peeve of mine. Speedy romance which is almost as bad as soppy romances that have no emotional connection but only a desire to touch and feel.

Shouldn’t love be an emotional connection instead of a “OOOH HER BODY” or “MANNNNN HE’S GOOD LOOKING” kind of thing? more like “They are interesting… I kind of want to know a bit more about them” which turns into admiration. In simple terms love should never be confused with lust. They are completely separate things.

Aside from that there was something Acevedo has done very well and that was:

RELIGION, CULTURE AND ABUSE
We don’t really get many religious books nowadays. Probably because we are so multicultural as a society that there aren’t many nations that are solely one religion or culture anymore. But it was nice to get around something Catholic/Christian especially around Easter time. I also loved how there were many parts of the novel inspired by Spanish and Dominican culture. I just didn’t expect this whole abuse thing to go on especially around religious parents. The abuse parts were handled perfectly and with extreme care I thought. I won’t spoil too much about it for spoilers but I just wanted to highlight the care in which that issue was taken.

POETRY!!
And finally poetry. It was a major aspect of the book, the whole book was written in free verse. Xiomara herself was a poet. I just wished there was more about her writing/poetry passion. There were glimpses but I wished for more of a look into it.

All in all a decent debut. I had fun. There were a few negatives but they intertwined with positives.

ACTUAL RATING: 2.5 STARS

2 comments

inky Centre for Youth Literature

Thanks for the review and the rant!

15th May, 19
sylvs

All good :P I'm trying to read all the Inky Awards books this year hehe

15th May, 19