Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: March 26th, 2013
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: In Meg Medina’s compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school — and must discover resources she never knew she had.
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? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
What I Think: Oh my gosh, this book! I should have read it when it came out in 2013. I read it now as a mentor text for the young adult novel I'm revising. I love how Piddy loves and respects her mother but at the same time how she feels isolated from her. It's hard to imagine what I would have done if I was ever in Piddy's situation. I definitely know what it feels like to have someone dislike you and have no idea why...but I'm lucky that it didn't go further than feeling as though this person was absolutely disgusted by me. Meg Medina does a wonderful job of bringing all the characters to life and of weaving their storylines together. Piddy isn't the only character with a story arc.
What I really love about the snatch of text that stood out to me, is that Meg Medina slips in this description of Piddy but at the same time she shows us what Piddy thinks of herself in comparison to her friend Mitzi and she gives us how Piddy feels based on Joey Halper treats her. It speaks to the bigger idea of wanting to fit in. I think all teens grapple with fitting in and finding oneself in comparison to others but also in finding oneself amidst how it feels others are perceiving us. I'm can't entirely speak for every other person of color but I know for me, I thought about this a lot growing up and think about even more lately. Part of me wants to be what society deems as beautiful. But part of me wants to be me...and for that to be seen as beautiful. Meg Medina shows us here how Piddy doesn't see herself as pretty but at the same time it's all relative.
I book talked Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick My Ass to 7th and 8th graders and I wish I had a picture of their eyes widening when I read the title and how they giggled. Sometimes a title makes all the difference. They were definitely curious about the book after I read the title and I'm so glad it is a title that captivates because, like the summary says, this is an all-too-realistic novel and I'm sure many students will relate to this story and be sucked into Piddy's story like I was.
Snatch of Text:
"I looked around at all the packed boxes and felt my throat go dry. I already hated the new apartment and Daniel Jones High School. I hadn't felt this bad since Mitzi's moving van pulled away from our street.
But I held my tongue. Getting my own room was the only shining piece of good news in this whole thing. It meant I wouldn't have to share a sofa bed with Ma, who snores and takes my covers. Still, the 'pretty' part was ridiculous. I've never been one of the pretty girls. Mitzi's the good-looking one, all curvy like a guitar. I'm tall and skinny. My eyes are wide set and the color of mud. Joey Halper says I look like a toad, presumably now one with a booty. Sometimes he croaks ribbit from his window when he sees me outside and wants to say hello." (p. 19)