Title: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Release date: March 26th 2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Review copy from author
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.
This is one of those books to which the phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' (or by its title) really applies. Before starting this book, I didn't think I would like it all that much, based on the cover and title, and to an extent the description. But as soon as I started it, I realized that Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is an amazing book about high school bullying, strength, and self-discovery. I loved Meg Medina's writing, and I loved the plot. Piddy's story just seems so real to me!
It all begins when a girl in Piddy's school tells her that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. Piddy has no idea who Yaqui is, but she discovers just how much that girl hates her and her 'swishy butt'. Yaqui and her friends start bullying Piddy for no reason at all, and she doesn't know who to turn to. Her best friend has turned her back on Piddy, and she feels betrayed by her mother, too. The only people left are Lila, her mother's best friend, and Joey, Piddy's childhood best friend. Piddy eventually learns how to deal with Yaqui, after a lot of humiliation and pain, and she realizes that sometimes, you have to run instead of fight.
I really liked Piddy's character. She's 15 - well, turns 16 in the book - and a Latina girl in a new school. But the other Latinas shun her, so she has to hang with the misfits. There were a lot of racist comments about Piddy in this book, and I realized how thankful I am that this kind of stuff doesn't really happen in my school, despite the fact that it's incredibly diverse. There are quite a few Latinos in my school, but they all fit in very well with us. That makes me feel really sorry for Piddy, since the people she should be most comfortable with are bullying her. I couldn't connect very well with Piddy, but I did sympathize with her a lot. I was filled with horror at the things that were done to her by Yaqui and her friends! Piddy is Yaqui's new target, and Piddy suffers a lot from that.
There was a lot of spanish in this book - practically on every page at some point. Since I don't know much Spanish (the only words I could recognize in the book are gracias and ¡dios mío!) I got a little bit annoyed at that. But it was okay since most of it was translated into English right after. I did learn a lot about the Latino culture, and I found that really cool.
I really liked Joey, too. Piddy could go to him anytime, and he would be there to help her. Joey's got a lot of issues of his own - the fact that his dad beats the hell out of his mom and him all the time. And I felt so sorry for him. Joey plucked up the courage to do something about it when things got really bad, and I admire him for the choice he made. He gives Piddy some parting advice, and I'm glad she took it. Piddy deals with Yaqui's bullying in a way she doesn't want to, but knows she has to. This made me sad - to think that once bullies start with a target, that poor kid is never completely free of them. I really despise people who would do such terrible things to someone just to get kicks out of it. And again, I'm so thankful I don't know anyone who's experienced that.
Meg Medina highlights a lot of important issues in Yaqui Delgado, and does it in a way that makes you love the book as well as really think about how people who are being bullied really feel. I would recommend this book to all high-schoolers, because some of you guys may be able to relate to this, or maybe you know someone who's being bullied. If you do, follow Piddy's example! As Joey tells her, run if you have to. Keeping quiet about it won't help anyone, and fighting back may not be an option. I loved reading this, and I admire Meg Medina for tackling this issue in her book.
*Thank you to Meg Medina for providing an ARC for review*