With a title like ‘Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass’, Meg Medina totally has my attention. Seriously, I love the swears and so when a title has a cuss word in it, I pay attention to it. Good thing that I did, because I feel that Medina’s latest is a book to pay attention to. It treads familiar territory with bullying being the main thrust and theme. Medina’s story has a message, but not one that feels like we are just beating a dead horse. It’s about staying true to yourself and not letting others break you, one that I personally could have used as a kid, and one I think plenty of teenagers should be hearing.
Piddy has moved, she’s living a few blocks over but this means that she’s in a new school, away from her friends and the familiarity of the old school, which she loved. Unfortunately, Piddy does not receive a warm welcome at her new school. Instead, she is informed by one of her classmates that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass, exactly like the title. She has no idea who Yaqui Delgado is. She’s been targeted because apparently she shakes her ass too much as she walks and she’s drawn the eye of Yaqui’s boyfriend. The crux of Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass is in how Piddy will go about solving her problem. Will she have to change who she is to stop the bullying?
I think that Medina’s book does a great job exploring the pain of bullying and how the effects go beyond the immediate act. In the book, we see that Piddy changes from a bright and vivacious student to one who skips school because she’s scared. We see her grades start to slip. We see Piddy willing to give up on her dreams because Yaqui torments her until she’s on the brink. I think that there’s an interesting victim-perpetrator dynamic too. Piddy which FYI is short for Piedad, thinks that by acting weak and not looking tough, she is the cause of her victimhood. The reality is that Yaqui essentially singled her out to bully and we don’t really get an incredibly clear reason in the book. I think that happens in real life too, some people are just mean and get their rocks off on being mean. Granted, the book talks a bit about dark places and how some people let it make them mean and cruel and never rise above. To me, that’s interesting. I am not sure how much I agree with the book, as I think people can change. I remember this girl I went to school with who was incredibly mean but now it’s like she’s done a 180 personality wise.
Anyways. I am totally digressing in this review, but honestly Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass made me think which of course is kind of awesome. I also thought about the role of family. Piddy does not have a dad, instead she lives with her mom who works long hours in the back room of an electronics store. Her mother is very old school and traditional and constantly telling Piddy to be ladylike. Yet, this contrasts with her Aunt Lila, whom Piddy’s mom named Clara, has whispered is loose. Yet, we see Lila portrayed with vivacity, warmth and life. It’s interesting is all I am saying.
ALSO. You guys, while I was reading this book last night (as of time of writing the review it was last night), I teared up. There is a scene that’s kind of hard to take because I got invested in the story and the characters and Piddy’s problems that I just was sitting there sniffling and holding the book away from my face. It made me emote in real life, y’all.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
Other reviews of Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass:
Mrs. Readerpants – “I adored this book and its incredible characters”
Slatebreakers – “It’s nice to see a non-magical resolution to a problem like this”
Rich In Color – “a unique, genuine voice”