Book Review Blog, Episode Three – Meg Medina’s Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.
Book Summary: Piddy Sanchez is forced to change schools her sophomore year after her mother grows tired of the poor living conditions of their apartment building. While at the new school, the titular Yaqui Delgado lets Piddy know, through the grapevine, that she wants to kick her butt. The story continues to follow Piddy from the first-person point of view and how she deals with bullying, losing a best friend, moving, trauma, and not knowing her father.
APA Reference: Medina, M. (2013). Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass. New York: Candlewick.
Impressions: This is another book I thoroughly enjoyed. The descriptions were vivid without bogging the reader down in them, and the dialogue was real. The chapter in which Yaqui finally beats up Piddy accurately reflects modern day bullying because Yaqui’s friends record it with their phones and post it to the Internet for the world to see (students have shown me fights from previous years that took place in the school where I work). I’ve never been in a fight, or bullied (especially to Piddy’s extent), but I could feel her terror at the mention or sight of Yaqui or her friends. I also liked how the conflict is resolved because of how real it is. It’s also enlightening to hear how the administrator responds to Piddy’s mother and aunt (her mom’s best friend who is basically an aunt) and how they break down the logistics of discipline in a larger school.
I just wish the characters communicated more with each other, and I feel like that would have avoided unnecessary conflict for them. Piddy has never met her dad, and her mom refuses to talk to him. That creates a lot of tension between the mother and daughter that could have been avoided, but the book would not have been as compelling if they had talked their problems out so soon or quickly.
Stevenson, D. (2013). Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass by M. Medina (review). Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 66(7), 345-346. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved July 3, 2017, from Project MUSE database.
…What makes this story so compelling is that it’s about Piddy in her entirety, not just about bullying; in fact, the book starts with Piddy’s lively narration focusing on her displeasure about the move and the ongoing friction with her strict mother. As Yaqui malignantly dominates Piddy’s life, she also dominates the book, so readers share Piddy’s experience of swiftly descending from normal to nightmare. Medina emphasizes Piddy’s acute sense of isolation without overplaying it, and she absolutely respects the totality of Piddy’s quandary, knowing that ham-fisted adult involvement will only make things worse. Indeed, there’s no great resolution here: Piddy ends up with a safety transfer back to her old school and some philosophical perspective on life’s unfairness but no illusions about being better for the incident. The message here is that tough and unfair stuff is really tough and unfair, but it’s also survivable; that’s a takeaway that readers will recognize as both true and valuable.
Library Uses: This book could be used to highlight Hispanic culture or be part of an anti-bullying campaign. It won the 2014 Pura Belpré Award, so it could also be used in conjunction with other award-winning books.