Skip to main content

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina won much praise and awards when it was released last year. It has also earned more than its fair share of controversy as people have tried to remove it from library shelves and disinvite Ms. Medina from author visits due to its contents. I am happy to say I've finally read, and it deserves every bit of praise it's received and more besides.

Synopsis:
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?

I had strong visceral reactions to this book. Tension, fear I could taste. I felt sick to my stomach in several places. The writing is so emotive I think anyone will experience some similar feelings. Mine were was even stronger because I transferred from a relatively safe academically driven high school to a high school with more gangs, drugs, and violence between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I know how it feels to be scared when you walk down the halls when that's not something you've ever experienced before. I know that desire Piddy feels to keep her head down, vanish, become nothing to save herself from being noticed. I don't know what it's like to actually be a specific target though, and watching Piddy's life unravel as the bullying got worse and worse was so hard. 

One could say that this is an "issue book", a book about bullying to build empathy for those who may experience it and to educate everyone on what it looks like and the effect it can have. It is that. But more importantly, it is a book about a person. Piddy is smart and she has plans for her life. Plans she begins to throw away one at a time as she is further victimized. With few words and just showing Piddy's life, Medina paints a vivid picture of how terror can break a person and break them to pieces, more than just the physical results of a beating. Piddy's story is more than just the story of her problems with Yaqui Delgado though. It  is about her strained relationship with her mother, further strained by the events presently occurring. It is about her relationship with her best friend, changing by absence after so many years of closeness. It is about her relationship with her mom's best friend, who is like her aunt and is her confidant. It is about her relationship with her community. All these work together to bring the setting and story alive without requiring a whole lot of description.

The book is also in many ways, the story of Yaqui Delgado. I really liked that Medina made no attempt at the whole redeemed bully story here. Yaqui is not a pleasant person. She is hardened. She is mean. But by simply presenting the facts of the world in which she lives, Medina highlights how the system is failing kids like Yaqui. It shows how truly overwhelmed, exhausted, and hand tied the school workers are when dealing with too large a population of students that they don't have the resources to help. 

While not an easy book to read, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is an important book to read and one I look forward to sharing with my daughter in a few years. 

Comments

Brenda said…
Since Yacqui isn't the "redeemed bully", I am really curious now how the story does end. Is the ending satisfying?
Brandy said…
I was satisfied with the end. It is realistic, and yet hopeful too. Piddy is able to find her own power and strength, and that is a beautiful moment. How things resolve with Yacqui is a reflection of reality, which I always appreciate.

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein