Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Pages: 272 pages
Availability: On shelves now
Review Copy: Hardcopy from publisher & audiobook version from library
Summary: One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back.
At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
Review: Meg Medina does an excellent job of bringing us into Piddy's world. Piddy enjoys school, especially science courses and wants to work with animals someday. She's Latina, but when she transfers to a new school, she doesn't think she'll fit in with the Latina crowd. She never gets a chance to try. Before long, Yaqui and her gang are not only excluding her, they are targeting Piddy.
Piddy has no idea how to handle this, but her primary method is keeping her mother and adults in the school out of it. She fears that it will only get worse if those particular adults get involved. Fortunately, Piddy also has Lila to turn to in a crisis. Lila, a family friend, is a strong woman with a lot of love and support for Piddy.
Piddy has to decide who she is going to be and how she can make that happen. This book is a wonderful look at the experience of bullying and the many far reaching effects it can have on a person. It isn't just the physical effects that matter. The bruises and other damage are only one part of it. The constant fear can affect relationships, academics, and so much more.
For students going through bullying, this will be a book that shows them they aren't alone in their experience. For others, it is a huge reminder that the bystanders are choosing to be either part of the problem or part of the solution.
Recommendation: If you haven't read it yet, get it as soon as you can. I enjoyed the audiobook, but did prefer reading the hardcopy myself. Piddy's voice is real and I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to spend more time with this girl who was finding herself and working through this very difficult situation.
Extra: I was able to talk to Meg Medina a while ago and posted that interview over at Rich in Color. In it, she shares that the book is based on some experiences in her own life. You can read that interview here.