Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass (Medina)

AUTHOR: Meg Medina
SERIES: none
PUBLISHER: Candlewick
PUBLICATION DATE: March 26, 2013
ISBN: 9780763658595
PAGES: 272
SOURCE: public library
GENRE: contemporary/realistic (bullying)
SUMMARY: In her first weeks at a new high school, Piddy is shocked when some girl tells her that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. Who is this Yaqui Delgado, and what is her beef with Piddy? At first, Piddy tries her best to ignore it, but Yaqui and her friends keep on harassing Piddy. As a bad situation turns worse, fear and anxiety begin to rule Piddy's life. Piddy knows that telling an adult will make her look like a wimp and will only make matters worse. So what can she do?

REVIEW: Fear is a powerful emotion. Maslow's Hierarchy says that safety is one of our most basic needs, that people must feel safe before they can ever prosper. Before she moved to her new high school, Piddy was safe and prospering. She was a great student who had friends and her teachers' respect. But take safety out of that equation, and Piddy becomes hunted. Afraid. Constantly watching her back. Her grades tank. She starts skipping school. She changes her appearance so she looks tougher. She lies to her best friend and shouts at her concerned mother.

This is most definitely a book that will stick with me, and I know that I will be recommending it frequently. It kind of reminds me of 50 Cent's Playground because though the content may be better for older students, I cannot deny my middle schoolers this book. Bullying touches everyone. It's terrifying, and though they claim to try, I will never think public schools do enough to combat it.

I adored this book and its incredible characters. The bullying is portrayed so believably, and Piddy's reactions to it are spot-on. Readers will empathize with Piddy and understand her conflicting emotions. Should she tell an adult? Is it worth risking her neck even worse? Wow.

All of the characters are believable. I loved Piddy especially, but her mother and Lila and Joey and Raul and even the assistant principal are all just perfect characterizations. I felt like I knew these people, could picture them sitting right in front of me. Even the secondary plotlines--the neighbor abusing his wife, the nosy neighbor who witnesses Piddy's assault and does NOTHING, Joey's homemade tattoos, the rowdy beauty shop, the homeless kittens--all round out this story and make it just so perfectly real and believable.

Lots of Spanish words and phrases (Piddy's mother is Cuban) will help draw a Latina audience. Also excellent for resistant female readers.

THE BOTTOM LINE: This book is a MUST for high school libraries, and I think middle school librarians should seriously consider it. Yes, there is some mature content, but the story is so NEEDED in our urban schools right now. An engrossing story of a desperate girl who feels terrorized, trapped, and alone...yet still manages to find her way.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. I will be talking this up a lot, despite the mature content.

READALIKES: Playground (50 Cent), Eleanor & Park (Rowell)

THEMES: bullying, assault, spousal abuse, friendship, fear, standing up, mother-daughter relationships

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

  • Language: mild; frequent use of "ass"; graffiti ("penis", "homo"); 1 sh**
  • Sexuality: medium; character has hickey; horizontal making out (female is without a shirt)
  • Violence: medium; threats, bullying, spousal abuse (neighbors), one serious assault
  • Drugs/Alcohol: mild; wine at a party (adults)
  • Other: skipping school (with little consequence), past infidelity

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