Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Published: March 26, 2013 by Candlewick Press
Summary: In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.
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.
Ricki’s Review: There are many books about bullying, but it is rare to read a text that makes you truly feel frighted for the character being bullied. This text felt very real to me, and it will surely resonate with teenagers. There are many lessons about bullying, but there are also some phenomenal examples of family and friendship. Piddy’s mother isn’t perfect and like all parents, she makes mistakes, but she is a single mother who tries her best. The ups and downs of this mother-daughter relationship offer much to ponder and discuss. As adolescents go through high school, they form new bonds and often, they also grow apart from childhood friends. Piddy’s circumstances of a new school with new friendships will absolutely connect with teens.
Kellee’s Review: Like Ricki stated above, this book makes you feel. As Yaqui fills Piddy’s world with fear, Piddy begins to lose herself and get caught up in the terror. As a reader, you find yourself afraid with Piddy whenever she leaves her house, goes to school, or even thinks about doing either. A book that can do this is brilliant. Meg Medina has a way of sucking you into the world, and I think it is her use of imagery throughout. You can see the characters, hear the music Piddy listens to, feel the fear, etc. And Piddy’s voice is so crystal clear, that is something she never loses. When you finish reading, you can still hear Piddy’s voice in your head. I also feel that this is a wonderful diverse book in a time when the YA community is calling for diverse books. This one should be in high school classrooms, and should be discussed as it has such important themes and beautiful writing (no matter what anyone thinks about it!).
Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great read aloud at the beginning of the school year. Bullying is a problem that is all too real in our school systems, and it must be addressed immediately, in my opinion. This book would provide rich discussions for classrooms, and it is a must-read for teens. It would be great to do several book groups (or lit circles) that are centered on bullying texts in order to compare the characters’ experiences.
Discussion Questions: Does Piddy make the right decisions? Would you make different choices than her? Why or why not?; Why does the author incorporate Spanish into the text? What does it add, stylistically?; How does Piddy’s absent father affect her?; Which individuals have a positive impact on Piddy? How do these relationships build her character?; Is Joey a good influence on Piddy? What does she learn from him?; Do you agree with the choice that Piddy makes in the end? Would you have made the same choice? Does it show weakness or strength?
We Flagged: “’Son unas cualquieras,’ [my mother] mutters. Nobodies. No culture, no family life, illiterates, she means. The kind of people who make her cross to the other side of the street if she meets them in the dark on payday. They’re her worst nightmare of what a Latin girl can become in the United States. Their big hoop earrings and plucked eyebrows, their dark lips painted like those stars in the old black-and-white movies, their tight T-shirts that show too much curve and invite boys’ touches” (p. 55).
Read This If You Loved: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña, The Secret Life of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Sitomer, Burn by Suzanne Phillips, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian, Shine by Lauren Myracle, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney