Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 268
The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, is a profound, delightful, and moving novel about a girl's coming-of-age experience. The protagonist, Xiomara Batista, navigates growing up as a thoughtful and creative young poet in Harlem while the living under the roof of her strict, fundamentalist Christian mother. Xiomara faces a conflicting life, as she must deal with her mother's intense religious rules, expectations, and strictness while trying to understand and express herself through her poetry. Xiomara fills a book with her poems but does not utter them to anyone else, as she fears she will not be understood or will be punished for her feelings, thoughts, and reflections on her life and how she moves through the world.
When Xiomara develops romantic feelings for a classmate, Aman, she also feels she must keep this a secret from her mother. Similarly, when Xiomara begins participating in slam poetry, she must deal with feeling that she must hide this from her strict, cold-seeming mother. The novel certainly highlights the tensions between a youth who is eager to express her creativeness and thoughts and a mother who is determined to keep her daughter under her tight control in order to keep her safe. The Poet X also boldly discusses sexism and patriarchy within the Church, and Xiomara's character bravely pushes back against rape culture and blatant sexism.
This novel absolutely pulls on your heartstrings as you read Xiomara's beautifully written poems, and it is impossible to not want her to be able to break free from her mother's grasp and be able to have experiences and express herself on her own terms.