I’ll admit I was sold to Meg Medina’s “Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” for the strength of the title alone. On one hand it makes you want to laugh for the audacity of the words and the implied voice, and on another it makes you consider the meaning and think “Uh oh.” This is the story of Piddy, a tenth grade (15-16 year old) Latina girl who has to deal with a myriad of different issues. The story focuses on establishing her life – her family, friends, school – and there’s a refreshing quality both to the tone of Piddy’s voice and her established relationships. It isn’t until a little while into the story that we realize just how much she’s tormented by Yaqui Delgado.
I’ll admit that there’s a bit of a distance between the bullying incidents and the fear that Piddy has over what Yaqui does. Yaqui humiliates and hurts Piddy in quite direct ways, but its interspersed with difficulties that Piddy faces with regards to her performance at school, her personal relationships and coming to terms with whether she can run away from her problems or face up to them. I think the strengths of this novel do come across in her coming to terms, the realism of her voice and circumstances. The drawback is that I think while the story starts out strong, and ends strong as well – the middle can meander a little and loses some steam in spurts because it attempts to develop some of the side stories in addition to the thematic of the title. When it was all considered though, I liked it for what it offered, and it’s encouraged me to look into more of Meg Medina’s work.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Candlewick Press.