Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Common Sense Media says

Mesmerizing, gritty story of bullied Latina teen in NYC.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Teens will learn what it's like to live in Queens, New York, as well as certain aspects of Latino culture and why it's important to tell someone when you're being bullied.

Positive messages

The overwhelming message of the story is to seek help when you're being bullied. No matter how well you think you can handle the situation yourself, it's likely that you'll need support from parents, teachers, and school administration -- particularly a parent who can advocate on your behalf. The book also encourages having trustworthy adult friends/relatives outside of a parent, in case it's too hard to talk to speak to parents directly.

Positive role models

Piddy is a smart girl and a good friend, but when faced with a bully, she isn't sure where to turn for help. After the harassment continues, she withdraws and stops doing her classwork. But throughout all the hurt, Piddy knows she deserves more than the pain of the peer abuse, and when she has an opportunity to run away, she stays. Joey has myriad family problems from living with an abusive father but refuses to repeat the cycle and won't even keep kissing Piddy when he sees she's bruised; he wants to protect her. Piddy's mother and godmother both have her best interests at heart, even when Piddy disagrees with them.

Violence

Yaqui and her crew culminate a series of small indignities with "jumping" Piddy outside of school. They throw rocks at her, yank her by the hair, press her into the pavement, punch, slap, and kick her multiple times before ripping her shirt and bra, so she's half naked and bruised. Joey's father beats his mother, and she's found unconscious, so he beats up his father until the police arrive.

Sex

Piddy doesn't have much experience but kisses and makes out with "bad boy" Joey Halper a few times. She wonders what it would be like to have sex with him, but her bruised body stops him from continuing past second base.

Language

Occasional but not overly frequent strong language throughout, including curses in both English and Spanish, like "s--t," "ass," "bitch," puta (whore), cualquiera (slutty nobodies), "pissy," "hell," "idiot."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mentions of Joey's alcoholic father drinking until "his anger explodes," in contrast with Piddy's mother, who barely drinks. Lila, an adult, smokes cigarettes but wants to keep it a secret from her cop boyfriend.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is a realistic contemporary novel about a teenager who faces persistent bullying that leads to physical abuse. It's an unflinching look at the various ways, from pushing and name-calling to violence, that bullies and their cliques operate. Through the main character Piddy Sanchez, kids will learn the devastating cost of not seeking help from a parent and how easy it is for bullying to spiral out of control. Because she's Latina, readers will also learn more about Latinos living in New York and cultural issues they may not have understood before reading the book. There's some strong language in English and Spanish ("bitch," "ass," "s--t," "puta") as well as a few scenes in which two teens make out, but otherwise this is a story about one girl's frightening ordeal with a bully.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

Piddy Sanchez is smart and pretty, but she just can't win at her new high school. One morning, an acquaintance helpfully informs Piddy, "Yaqui Delagado wants to kick your ass." Piddy can't put a face to the name, but she's told mean-girl Yaqui thinks she's a snobby poser who isn't Latina enough (with her fair skin and "white" accent) and shakes her butt way too much when she walks -- all apparent reasons to deserve a beat-down. Despite her best efforts to focus on acing her advanced classes and finding out what happened between her single mother and her biological father, Piddy can't avoid the escalating harassment from Yaqui and her crew. Eventually the bullying reaches terrifying levels and drives Piddy into a spiral of depression, rebellion, isolation -- and into the arms of a guy with even bigger problems.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS is both mesmerizing and terrifying. Piddy, like most victims of bullying, has no idea why she's being targeted until someone points out that her mere presence, intelligence, and potential angers and threatens Yaqui Delgado. Even though it's not an easy read, Piddy's story contains moments of humor, romance, and a depth that goes beyond the bully theme. Author Meg Medina, who specializes in Latino protagonists, delves into the unique relationship between an only child and a single mother, the expectations and rules and supervision that make it difficult for Piddy to tell her Mami the truth.

Most of the time, bullying is discussed in terms of social media and cyberstalking, but old-fashioned face-to-face bullying happens as well (although the mean girls also take a phone snapshot of a bruised and half-naked Piddy), and Medina captures the fear and pain of facing your attacker day in and day out -- without any hope of reprieve. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass should be taught in schools, read by counselors and parents, and used as a tool to discuss the importance of finding your voice, telling the truth and asking for help.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about books about bullying. What should have Piddy done differently to get more help? What are the lessons from Piddy's ordeal with bully Yaqui Delgado? How does bullying manifest itself in your school -- face to face or online? Get tips on how to stand up to cyberbullies.

  • Discuss the relationship between Piddy and Joey; how is it an atypical young adult romance?  How do they help each other? What do you think ends up happening between them?

  • The book features not only a Latina main character but a mostly Latino high school and neighborhood. What about Latino culture did you learn from the book? Why do you think there are so few Latino characters in YA books? What are some other books that do have Latino protagonists or major characters?

Book details

Author:Meg Medina
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Topics:High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:March 26, 2013
Number of pages:272
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

This review of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass was written by

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Kid, 10 years old July 1, 2013
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17
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yup...

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What other families should know
Too much swearing

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