Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

by Meg Medina (Author)

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Reading Level: 9th — 12th Grade

"Honest and exquisitely crafted." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy's life. In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine forced to decide who she really is.


School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 7 Up—Piedad Sanchez moved at the beginning of her sophomore year, and a few weeks into classes at her new school a girl comes up to say that "Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass." As a first line, it sets the focus for Piddy, who has always had friends, gotten good grades, and managed quite well in her old school. There's no real reason for the enmity, but the threat is more than real and begins to permeate Piddy's life. Gradually readers see that her mother's best friend, who works at a hair salon and has been her support, is the only adult who even has a clue about what is going on. The Queens, New York, neighborhood is solidly Hispanic and the language reflects the culture. Piddy does a downward spiral as the torment gets increasingly worse. The school reaction and the dilemma she faces are realistically portrayed. Yaqui can get to her in and out of school, and she is vulnerable to being terrorized by a whole group of Yaqui supporters. The way that the abuse and threats impact Piddy to try to become a bad girl herself is logically presented. The plight of a pair of abandoned kittens parallels her own loneliness and loss. The Latino cultural milieu adds a richness and texture that lifts this up above many problem novels. The plot points are dexterously intertwined, and the characters are distinct. A real bonus for those looking for a bullying book for older readers that is not simplistic.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO

Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

High school sophomore Piddy Sanchez can't catch a break. She's just moved and transferred schools, separating her from her best friend. Piddy's curvy figure attracts the attention of both boys and school bully Yaqui, who is jealous and won't accept ambitious and independent Piddy into her group of Latinas, and threatens to harm her. Piddy's life is complicated enough before Yaqui's cruel threats and violent attacks. Outside of school, Piddy works with a flamboyant family friend at a hair salon; has just discovered that her traditional mother may have secrets about Piddy's absent father; develops romantic feelings for a childhood friend; and worries if her dream of working with animals can come true. When Yaqui takes things too far, Piddy has to decide what she is willing to do to defend herself. Piddy is a strong heroine whose sense of self is realistically jarred by her conflicting emotions. Medina (The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) effectively prods at the motivations behind bullying (without excusing it) and sensitively explores the delicate balance between belonging and maintaining individuality. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)

Copyright 2013 Publisher's Weekly LLC. Used with permission.

Review quotes

Meg Medina is the author I studied, and still study, to learn how to write for children. Her ear is impeccable; the way she captures not only dialogue but also communicates adolescent feelings without being condescending nor pitching extra soft softballs. Few people get the balance of writing about and for teens right.
—Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author

A nuanced, heart-wrenching and ultimately empowering story about bullying....Interweaving themes of identity, escapism and body image, Medina takes what could be a didactic morality tale and spins it into something beautiful: a story rich in depth and heart...Far more than just a problem novel, this book sheds light on a serious issue without ever losing sight of its craft.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Medina emphasizes Piddy's acute sense of isolation without overplaying it, and she absolutely respects the totality of Piddy's quandary...The message here is that tough and unfair stuff is really tough and unfair, but it's also survivable; that's a takeaway that readers will recognize as both true and valuable.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

Yaqui may think she's tough, but it's Piddy and some of the other female characters, namely Piddy's mother and her mother's flamboyant best friend Lila, who make more lasting impressions. Medina's setting stands out as well...Teens will identify with Piddy's struggle.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

The Latino cultural milieu adds a richness and texture that lifts this up above many problem novels. The plot points are dexterously intertwined, and the characters are distinct. A real bonus for those looking for a bullying book for older readers that is not simplistic.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Medina authentically portrays the emotional rigors of bullying through Piddy's growing sense of claustrophobic dread, and even with no shortage of loving, supportive adults on her side, there's no easy solution. With issues of ethnic identity, class conflict, body image, and domestic violence, this could have been an overstuffed problem novel; instead, it transcends with heartfelt, truthful writing that treats the complicated roots of bullying withrespect.
—Booklist

This is a charming, straightforward, captivating story with universal teen themes that should find a home in all high school fiction collections.
—Library Media Connection

The fast-moving plot explores family (especially mother-daughter) relationships, the importance of communication, and personal integrity. As Piddy witnesses and experiences abandonment, harassment, and brutalization, she realizes that her own reaction is most important. Her decision to make positive choices is a great example for teens. The story, fueled by the controversial title, holds cross-cultural appeal...
—VOYA

Piddy is a strong heroine whose sense of self is realistically jarred by her conflicting emotions. Medina effectively prods at the motivations behind bullying (without excusing it) and sensitively explores the delicate balance between belonging and maintaining individuality.
—Publishers Weekly (online-only)

A powerful read! As tough and honest as its title, this novel takes an unflinching look at the unjust and cruel consequences of bullying. The story of Piddy Sanchez's transformation is full of the kind of truth teen readers will instantly recognize. I highly recommend it.
—James Howe

I cried and cheered for Piddy in equal measure. Medina perfectly captures the devastating impact of bullying—and the powerful influence of kindness in recovery. I love this book and miss Piddy already!
—Jo Knowles

Poignant, powerful, pull-your-heart-apart sad, snort-out-your-nose funny—a nuanced, honest telling of how courage and choice can triumph over the hell of being bullied.
—Carrie Jones, Author of the Need series and co-editor of Dear Bully

There's a lot packed into this vibrant small book which will make it a favorite for teens...Lots of action with a realistic setting, dialogue, relationships, problems, and solutions make this book a winner. The cover—a blue locker with graffiti for the title—will attract reluctant readers. The content will keep them reading to the end and wanting more, especially to hear Yaqui's story.
—SLJTeen

Books about bullying are on the rise as adults grapple with its causes and impact — and young people struggle to deal with it. This gritty novel manages to transcend the usual earnest fictional treatment by delivering a protagonist who is more than a mere victim and an ending that rings complicatedly true. ... This unflinching novel, with its richly developed main character, deserves a place with two other nuanced bully books for teens: Rita Williams-Garcia's JUMPED, a 2009 National Book Award finalist that explores the mindsets of bully, victim and bystander; and Adam Rex's FAT VAMPIRE, in which a main character confronts her guilt as a cyberbully
—The Washington Post

Amid an explosion of bully books, Meg Medina's novel stands out for its honesty about girl-on-girl violence and its intelligent, insightful narrator. ... Medina brilliantly captures the sense of foreboding that envelops bully victims.
—Shelf Awareness

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.
—Common Sense Media
Meg Medina
Meg Medina is the 2019 Newbery Medalist for Merci Suárez Changes Gears. About this sequel, she says, "I'm so excited to bring my readers into the world of the Suárez family and Seaward Pines once again. . . . New friends, new teachers, and new self-doubts. It's been a thrill to write about all the zany things that the seventh grade can throw at a person." The recipient of the Pura Belpré Author Award for her young adult novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Meg Medina is also the author of the novels Burn Baby Burn and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and the picture books Mango, Abuela, and Me and Tía Isa Wants a Car, for which she received an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Meg Medina lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her family.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780763671648
Lexile Measure
670L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publication date
August 20, 2014
Series
-
Nevada Young Readers' Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016
Pura Bulpré
Winner

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