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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista is a girl who isn’t sure where – or how – she belongs.  A twin and one half of her Dominican parents’ miracle, Xiomara is everything her devout mother is afraid of – full of questions, especially when it comes to faith, possessed of fierce fists she learned how to use a long time ago to protect her twin brother, and with a body she always feels takes up too much space, especially when boys and men are always calling attention to it.  She’s also a girl who loves words and loves to write, her most prized possession a journal her twin, Xavier, gave to her on her birthday.

When her new English teacher, Ms. Galiano, invites Xiomara to join her after-school slam poetry club, Xiomara knows she can’t go.  Confirmation class is at the same time, and there’s no way Mami will allow her to switch it up, even though Xiomara isn’t too sure she’s ready to be confirmed yet – she’s full of too many questions that no one seems to want to hear, much less answer.

But a friendship – and maybe more, although there’s no way Mami will allow her to date – with a boy in her bio class starts to change the ways Xiomara tries to fit in to her world.  Aman feels like the first person to really listen to her – listen, and not judge.  Listen, with respect.  Listen, and understand.  Listen, and give words back to her.  As Xiomara fills up the pages of her journal with poetry, she starts to move toward becoming a girl who can let her words out – and even be proud of them.  But when something happens that sends her words up in smoke, can she be brave enough to keep working her way toward herself?

This book has been on my radar for months, so, after it basically picked up All The Awards this year, I knew I had to take a break from my annual Harry Potter re-read and make some time for Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut novel.  And OH WOW am I glad I did.  Beautiful, compelling, heart-breaking, raw and emotional, and stunning in its expression of one girl’s truth, this has got to be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Written in free verse, The Poet X is the story of Xiomara’s sophomore year of high school – the story of how one girl finds the words inside herself and uses them to set her true self free.

Great action series you may have missed

Book jacket cover of Patient ZeroThose of you who like fast paced, high octane thrillers with aspects of horror and science fiction (think James Rollins’ Sigma Force novels or Christopher Farnsworth’s Nathaniel Cade novels) should DEFINITELY try out the Joe Ledger novels by Jonathan Maberry. First in the series is Patient Zero: “When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there’s either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills … and there’s nothing wrong with Joe Ledger’s skills. And that’s both a good, and a bad thing. It’s good because he’s a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It’s bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance …” Despite the intense action, the book is both fun and funny, and Joe Ledger is a great character that you will love to root for. Highly recommended!