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The Poet X: A Novel, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is the daughter of Dominican immigrants. Her debut novel The Poet X won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, and the Carnegie Medal. It is worth noting that Acevedo is the first writer of color to win the latter in its 83-year history. The Poet X is the story of a young Dominican-American girl, Xiomara Batista, who feels unheard and unhide-able in her neighborhood. Xiomara struggles with finding and embracing her identity while simultaneously wrestling with her parents’ expectations and her Mami’s Christian religion.

Favorite Excerpts

I am unhide-able.

Taller than even my father, with what Mami has always said

was “a little too much body for such a young girl.”

I am the baby fat that settled into D-cups and swinging hips

so that the boys who called me a whale in middle school

now ask me to send them pictures of myself in a thong.

Unhide-able, p. 5

My parents probably wanted a girl who would sit in the pews

wearing pretty florals and a soft smile.

They got combat boots and a mouth silent

until it’s sharp as an island machete.

Names, p. 8

I look at her scarred knuckles.

I know exactly how she was taught

faith.

“Mami,” I Say to Her on the Walk Home, p. 17

 

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With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this cover is?! Erick Davila really came thru with the jacket and case art!

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With the Fire on High tells the story of Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Puerto Rican teenage mom in her senior year of high school, who dreams of becoming a chef. Raised by her abuela, without the chance of having met her mother, with a rocky father-daughter relationship, and a possessive baby daddy, With the Fire on High gives visibility to a character who is often marginalized and vilified in our societies.