When Piddy has to move to a new high school things in her life take a turn for the worse. Some girls tell her that Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass and that she better be scared, because what Yaqui wants, Yaqui gets. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is let alone why she would hate her. It could be that Piddy’s not Latina enough, with her light skin and her good grades. Or it could be that she shakes too much when she walks. It might be because Yaqui’s boyfriend is watching the shaking. Or it could be all of those things, or none of those things. In the end it doesn’t matter, because Piddy’s life gets overtaken by fear and justifiable paranoia. And she knows she can’t tell anyone, it will only make things worse. But when Yaqui finally catches up to her, the marks show, videos go viral making it impossible for her to show her face at school, and she can’t keep it a secret for much longer.
But the horrific bullying and the very real fear and depression that accompany it are not all there is to the story which contains wonderful secondary characters. There is Piddy’s strong mother who is struggling alone to raise her daughter, and do right be her, while Piddy struggles to understand her mother and know more about the past and her absent father. There is Lila, an adult refuge for Piddy and her mother’s best friend. Also strong and sassy, with her line of boyfriends and her cosmetics business, Lila struggles with helping Piddy without keeping secrets from Piddy’s mom. And there is Joey, a troubled boy with a troubled family, a friend from Piddy’s childhood, and the place where Piddy goes looking for love when her life is overtaken by hate and fear. And of course, there is Yaqui Delgado herself, acting out on her own fears, overtaken by anger and desperation.
This may be the best book I’ve read in a long time. Gritty and real, sad and funny, harrowing and triumphant, I loved every moment of it. Full of sadness and strength, humor and hope, hate and love, the story captivates, makes you weep for Piddy and pray for her survival. And while the ending is satisfactory, it is not perfect. But it’s fitting, because life is not perfect, and it certainly isn’t fair, but fairness has little to do with survival.
Title: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Author: Meg Medina
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Publication: Candlewick, March 2013