Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

With such a seemingly sensational title, I expected this book to be little more than YA fluff entertainment. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (available March 2013) is a well-written, affecting story about a girl dealing with the horrors of bullying.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Piddy Sanchez is less than thrilled when her mother decides to move them to a new part of Queens. Even though they now have a better apartment, and Piddy even has her own room for the first time, she dreads starting her sophomore year at a new school. Piddy's fears turn out to be grounded in harsh reality as she is soon told that Yaqui Delgado, a girl she has never even met, wants to kick her ass since she "shakes her stuff" when she walks and thinks she's too good for the other Hispanic girls. Light-skinned Piddy doesn't mean to shake it when she walks and just doesn't fit in with the other Latina girls at her school--but she doesn't have a way to defend herself from such accusations. As the bullying begins and steadily increases, Medina does an excellent job of communicating Piddy's panic. As her feelings of helplessness and despair escalate, Piddy begins to isolate herself from her mother (whom she had already begun to reject) and avoid school. That's not enough to keep her safe from Yaqui though, and Piddy is left with a difficult choice.

This is a beautifully written book that masterfully avoids didacticism and does not offer pat answers to difficult problems. The supporting characters are stellar and completely three-dimensional and Medina masterfully weaves themes of identity, absent parents, escapism, and body image into the larger story arc with ease.


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