Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Candlewick, 2013. Currently Available.
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Does it Break the Slate? Definitely. Piddy’s story is almost painfully realistic, but her ultimate journey to a solution would give any girl both resources and hope in getting through a similar situation.
Who would we give it to? Bullying is a big thing – obviously since forever, but it’s a hot topic as of late. So there’s a real market for a well-written book like this one that addresses the issue unflinchingly and head-on. It has solutions, but not magical ones, and would be a great addition to a library collection.
Review: Piddy Sanchez doesn’t think her life could get much worse. She had to move, switch schools, deal with the fact that her mother won’t tell her anything about her father, and figure out why her best friend seems to be so much happier at her new school than Piddy is at hers. And then before school some girl tells Piddy that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. 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.” Even though Piddy has never even met Yaqui, it starts to take over her life. Suddenly Piddy finds herself terrorized by Yaqui and her friends, and there doesn’t seem to be anything she can do about it.
Piddy’s situation is terrible, but she’s not a pathetic victim either. She’s so taken aback by what happens with Yaqui that she doesn’t know how to stop it before it gets out of control. She’s tough, but she’s completely at a loss with how to deal with the vitriol she’s facing. It’s hard to read about at times, but honest and compelling.
The real key to this book’s success is that Piddy is a great character, and her voice comes through really clearly. She has a sense of humor, even when things are really bad. Her compassion for other characters comes through, even in the midst of her own problems. Plus, the relationships between Piddy, her mother, and her mother’s best friend Lila are really beautifully rendered, and such a key element to the Slatebreaking quality of the book. Both her mother and Lila love Piddy, even if they are able to show her that love in different ways. But both are there for her in the end, when she finally confesses what’s been happening to her.
Spoiler alert – I really appreciated that ultimately things don’t ever work out with Yaqui. Piddy gets out of her bad situation, but she ultimately leaves her school, rather than continue to face her torment. I really appreciated this. It’s nice to see a non-magical resolution to a problem like this. And even though we get some insight into what’s going on with Yaqui, there’s no magical moment where the girls understand each other. So what we ultimately get to see is a viable alternative for someone else who is really suffering.
Reviewed from library e-book copy.