Genre: Poetry, young adult, lgbt characters
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world.
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.
The narrator was fantastic, some of the best I’ve ever heard. And of course she was, I thought as I realized towards the end it was the author and slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo narrating the audiobook as well. I fully recommend listening to it! As the book is written in verse/poems (hard to say having only listened to it), it’s “only” three and a half hours as well, completely worth it.
Rating out of five: four
It’s a strong and beautiful story of a quiet girl finding her voice, letting out all the thoughts she’s not been allowed to tell and finding good friends, through slam poetry. She’s growing and finding her way to deal with romance, family, religion and need for a bit of freedom.
It’s obvious reading/listening to the book that the author knows what she’s writing. She’s a slam poet, she’s seen people find their voice through it most likely. The way she tells the story is stunning, from the first page I was sold. This is the way to tell that story.
There’s not much else for me to say about this book, which is rare. It’s more young adult novel than I realized going into it, and I would absolutely recommend giving it to young girls. I became a bit frustrated in the middle part of the book, when Xiomara wasn’t doing poetry out of fear, and nothing moved along. Had to realize the story isn’t something unexpected – the plot is only going one way – but it’s still important and told great. What really brought me in again was Xiomara and the mom coming to the height of their conflict, and how impactful the writing was in that moment. The ending was very wholesome, setting the tone of the whole book’s message. It’s so tough being a kid with little control over your own life, trying to find it as you’re becoming older, with opinions of your own. This book conveyed that.