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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
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