A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
Wow! This book is something else. I really felt for Xiomara because so much of what she experiences I also experienced. Having men say stuff to you and about you and you just get so tired of it, there is only so much you can take.
I got really nervous for X when she was with Aman, I thought he was just going to be like everyone else and only wanted to sleep with her, but I was so glad he wasn’t that person.
I really liked that Acevado put in the book the differences between men and women and how women are expected to be perfect but men aren’t. Men seem to be able to get away with anything and do whatever they want to. I definitely felt X’s frustrations with that.
I also loved the questions of faith. In my opinion, I don’t think children should be forced into any religion they don’t want, they should be able to learn and ask questions about all religions and then make an informed decision about which religion they would like to be a part of.
I am definitely not much of a writer, but Acevedo really brings light to how good writing can be for you, how cathartic and releasing it can be. If you decide to share it or not it is a part of you and takes you out of your head for a bit.