62 pages 2 hours read

Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

Fiction | Novel/Book in Verse | YA | Published in 2018

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“Their gazes and words / are heavy with all the things / they want you to be.” 

(Part 1, Page 21)

Xiomara, the protagonist, writes of the pressure she feels as the teenage daughter of older immigrant parents who are religiously conservative. She feels unable to find her own path in life and to be herself when she is with her parents because they want things for her that she does not necessarily want nor understand. As well, her parents believe her birth to be a miracle, which only puts more pressure on Xiomara to be something she is not.

Quotation Mark Icon

“But I stopped crying. / I licked at my split lip. / I prayed for the bleeding to stop.” 

(Part 1, Page 40)

Xiomara remembers experiencing her first menstrual period and buying tampons for herself at the age of 11. When her mother discovered that Xiomara was using tampons, she hits Xiomara across the face and accuses her of having sex, instead of helping Xiomara to understand what’s happening to her body. Out of shame, fear, and confusion, Xiomara cries and prays that both the bleeding of her cut lip and her menstrual cycle will stop, as it is causing her difficulty she cannot understand.

Quotation Mark Icon

“It happens when I wear shorts. / It happens when I wear jeans. / It happens when I stare at the ground. / It happens when I stare ahead.” 

(Part 1, Page 53)

In this poem, Xiomara acknowledges and confronts the unwanted male attention she receives due to her changing body. At 15, she is only starting to understand what it means to be a sexual being, and the male attention she receives alarms her and makes her feel powerless to convey an impression of herself that feels real.