Harlem sophomore Xiomara Batista isn’t saintly like her virtuous twin brother. And her tough exterior—she’s always ready to fend off unwelcome advances and unkind words—hides questions and insecurities. As her confirmation nears (after two failed attempts), Xiomara begins to voice her uncertainties about the Catholic faith and patriarchal piety pressed on her by her mother and the church. Both intrigued and disgusted by the advances of her peers and older men, she begins a secret relationship with her lab partner Aman, who seems interested in more than her curves (“who knew words,/ when said by the right person,/ by a boy who raises your temperature,/ moves heat like nothing else?”). Xiomara pours her innermost self into poems and dreams of competing in poetry slams, a passion she’s certain her conservative Dominican parents will never accept. Debut novelist Acevedo’s free verse gives Xiomara’s coming-of-age story an undeniable pull, its emotionally charged bluntness reflecting her determination and strength. At its heart, this is a complex and sometimes painful exploration of love in its many forms, with Xiomara’s growing love for herself reigning supreme. Ages 13–up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/22/2018 Release date: 03/06/2018 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.