Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass by Meg Medina

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What would you do if you found out someone wanted to beat you up and they didn’t even know you? How would that affect your life? How would it affect your perception of school? Piddy, or Piedad, goes through this nightmare in the book Yaqui Delgado wants to Kick Your Ass, written by Meg Medina, for which she won the 2014 Pura Belpre award. The book begins with Piddy’s friend/acquaintance telling her the news, or rather, the tile of the book. This comes as a huge blow to Piddy because number one, she has never met Yaqui, and as the reader finds out later, two, Yaqui hates Piddy because she thinks Piddy is trying to take her boyfriend. Of course this is unfounded. In the midst of this, there are characters such as Clare, Piddy’s miserable mother who works a back breaking job, and Lila, her mother’s friend and second mother to Piddy. The biggest takeaways from this novel are how Medina addresses the life shattering effects of bullying, bullying statistics and finding ones identity while reconciling one’s teenage self from their parents.

EVALUATION OF BOOK

This work explores the dynamics between sixteen year old Piddy (Piedad), and her first generation single mother, Clare. Her mother is strict, edgy and judgmental. On many occasions, Clare accuses girls of being promiscuous, using derogatory Spanish words. This is of great importance, because as Piddy later finds out, Clare has secrets of her own about her past romantic relationships. As Piddy continues to be harrassed by Yaqui and her crew, the bullying has a negative effect on her school. She stops turning in assignments even though she, up until this point, has been a rock solid students. When her mother, who knows nothing of the bullying, finds out about Piddy’s lowering grades she says,

“It says here you have six zeroes. Seis

“It’s a hard school,” I explain. Hard to survive…

“A zero doesn’t mean something is hard…it means your’re lazy. It means you’re not studying. Nada...Do you want to end up a little lowlife? Eh? Una chusma? Look at you! You’re practically playing the part.” (Medina, 2013, p. 81).

If Piddy felt uncomfortable sharing with her mother before this, then after this, she shuts down even more. Clare has no idea that Piddy is both adjusting to her newly forming body and is being antagonized by Yaqui’s. For her part, Clare, who works long back-breaking hours at a laundromat, is doing what she thinks is best. However, it has drastic results. Piddy now has almost no one to confide in and is descends further into isolation.

As the title clearly states, Piddy is the target of rage by Yaqui, who feels as if Piddy is trying to steal her boyfriend. Piddy has never engaged with or to spoken to this girl’s boyfriend. Instead, she has been a victim of sexual harassment from Alfredo, who at one point catcalls her. Consequently, the negative attention that Yaqui and her friends bestow on Piddy is unwarranted, unfair and eventually violent. This bullying turns Piddy’s world upside down. After she and Yaqui fight, she stops going to school, fights with her mother, leaves her house for extended times. When Piddy finally tells Lila what is going on, Lila says,

“She doesn’t hate you”…Lila shakes her head. “She doesn’t even think you’re a person. For that matter, she doesn’t think she’s a person. You’re just the next one in her path. It’s not personal. That’s how it is where she’s growing up. Beat or get beaten.” (Medina, 2013, p. 219).

The subject of bullying, while disagreeable and unfortunate, is a stark reality of students. Bullying happens at school and off campus. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “about 20 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school during the school year” (2017). That is an incredibly large number, which means that students at any given library have faced this type of oppression. Even more devastating are the consequences. According to the website Stopbullying.gov,

“Research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior ” (2020).

This is exactly what Piddy goes through. She stops going to class, she engages in early sexual activity, she leaves the house and does not return, she is argumentative with her mother. These are directly correlated with the nightmare she is going through. Medina does an amazing job of describing this nightmare as the reader reads on in horror and disbelief.

CONCLUSION

Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass brings to the reader a story of a girl who is unfairly targeted by a bully. Medina accurately captures the fear, isolation and anxiety that this can cause to victims of bullying. Piddy finds her self lost and especially isolated with a mother who does not seem to understand her and a best friend who recently moved away. Bullying is an unfortunate reality that students face in and out of school. This book is of vital importance because it tells one story from the perspective of a victim which can help young adults empathize, and speak out against bullying. Due to the content of this novel, I recommend it for a junior high or high school library.

CITATION

Institute of Education Sciences: National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). Fast Facts: Bullying. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=719

Medina, M. (2013). Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass. Candlewick Press.

Stopbullying.gov (2020). Facts about bullying. Retrieved from https://www.stopbullying.gov/resources/facts

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