It’s a shame that the first time this book got my attention is during banned book week, when both this title and Eleanor & Park were in the news. Regardless, I’m happy that the book challenge put Yaqui on my radar so I could read this unforgettable book about a bullied girl.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass audiobook synopsis:
“Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”
That’s what some girl tells Piddy Sanchez one morning before school. Too bad Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui Delgado is, let alone what she’s done to piss her off. All Piddy knows is that Yaqui hates her — and she better watch her back because Yaqui isn’t kidding around. At first Piddy just focuses on 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 and running away from her problems?
In this poignant and all-too-realistic story from award-winning author Meg Medina, Piddy is forced to decide exactly who she is versus who others are trying to make her become — and ultimately discovers a rhythm that is all her own.
Piddy has always been a star student and stayed out of trouble, but when she moves to a new school she becomes the target of bullying, and that throws her life in disarray. Medina shows the pain, shame, and academic negative effects bullying has on the tormented student. The situation gets worse and worse and Piddy retreats and doesn’t see any way out.
My heart broke for Piddy. She’s at a new school, separated from her best friend, and in a new difficult situation. This is uncharted territory for Piddy, and comes at a time where she is having some family drama with her mom. She has a lot of questions about her dad’s identity and where he fits in her life, and that also weighs heavily on her thoughts. Her body image is taking a hit too as her changing body is bring unwanted attention. And race also comes into play as Piddy’s light skin and unaccented English makes her not fit in with the Latin group at school.
Meg Medina gets that feeling of isolation and terror that a bullied student faces just right. This book takes a hard look at what it’s like to be bullied from all angles. When you’re in that situation it’s hard to dig yourself out and know who to turn to, and that’s the hole that Piddy finds herself in.
Piddy does have a support system in the form of her hard working mom, and her family friend/aunt, and she finds an unexpected ally in the troubled boy from her old building. But when you’re bullied it’s hard to open up even to the ones that love you most. This is one of my favorite recent YA families and their story is as standout as the bullying situation.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Roxanne Hernandez (the Perfect Chemistry series.) Hernandez gives a powerful performance and this is an audiobook I didn’t want to put down. She makes each character sound distinct and believable, from Piddy to her mother and their friends. I felt the emotional connection to Piddy’s story through the author’s words as read by Hernandez and the audiobook made the story even more impactful. The pacing, tone and accents were spot on, and I’d like to listen to this narrator again.
If you’re wondering why Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass is on the banned/challenged list, it’s mostly about the title (the author talks about the situation on her blog.) Ass is not a word unfamiliar to middle school students and it’s silly to keep this important book out of the hands of the very students that need it. I think this book could help someone in Piddy’s situation feel less alone and is something that should be carried in school libraries. A highly recommended read for students, educators, and parents.
Book Info: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, March 2013. Source: library book
Book Details: Audiobook run time: 6 hrs, 50 mins. Read by: Roxanne Hernandez. Also available in hardcover, 272 pages from Candlewick.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is a YA Fiction Cybils nominee.