Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass March 11, 2013Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
Piddy Sanchez doesn’t have a perfect life, but things could be a lot worse. She doesn’t know who her father is and her mother’s strict rules are annoying, but she has her best friend Mitzi, teachers who like her and her mother’s friend Lila to take her shopping and teach her to merengue. Then Piddy is told that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass, and slowly, her life begins to unravel.
Meg Medina captures lighting in a bottle with this story– it’s a perfect combination of coming-of-age, bullying, learning the truth about your family and being true to yourself. Medina captures the many tiny dangers of high school, which for Piddy is a place where walking the wrong way gets you beat up and being whistled at by a guy is your fault, not his. Who is to blame for social failure? Does being smart mean that you don’t count as Latina even if your mom is from Cuba? Is walking away from a bully the right choice to make? While the reader is clearly meant to root for Piddy, Yaqui is presented more as a mystery than as a flat out evil person, partly because, until the bullying starts, the two girls don’t know each other at all. Adults are sometimes part of the problem and sometimes part of the solution, but one of my favorite characters in the book is a teacher who admits that there are limits to what he can do. There are no easy answers in this story and no easy solutions to Piddy’s very real problems. Medina doesn’t shy away from the brutal violence of Yaqui’s bullying, making this a better fit for high school than middle school, although the descriptions are never gratuitous. Supporting characters are clearly drawn and Piddy’s strong voice will resonate with the reader long after the book is put down.