The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (361 pages)
Overview: X is stuck in a body that feels wrong, in a family that thinks she's wrong, in a religion that might be wrong, all in her Harlem neighborhood. X only has one thing that gives her relief, a journal where she could release her musings about the world. This book connects her to the slam poetry club run by her sophomore english teacher which may be the salvation X needs, if only she can find a way to stay late to get to the group. Overall: 4.5
Characters: 5 I'm a huge fan of X and her take on the world. She's intelligent and imaginative and she has an incredibly sharp eye for directing the world she lives in and the world at large with her smooth disassembly of every societal norm thrust in her face.
Her family, friends, teacher, and romantic interests work to fill out the rest of her world in a well developed way that made sense to telling the main character's story.
Plot: 5 I completely enjoyed the plot. I read it all in one sitting, unable to put it down. It's a quiet story of how your passion can really help you come into your own, but there is also a heavy dialogue about society's objectification of women's bodies. I loved how Acevedo explored the very real phenomenon about how self conscious women are/are expected to be in society. I thought it was especially important how she connected this body shame/hyperawareness back to the strict church upbringing as well with how her mother shames X for having the body she does because it attracts unwanted male attention. There were also good themes about immigrant children, religion, and independence.
Writing: 5 This is the first novel in verse I have ever read and I absolutely loved it! Honestly, the short bursts of sharp pictures with their quick transitions was the perfect thing coming out of the brain fog of illness. I'm interested in exploring more YA in verse. Acevedo succeeds in creating a strong bond between reader and main character as well as placing them vividly in the world.