Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina, is a book I picked up based on the title alone. "Teenagers will want to read me!" is the invisible subtitle. I mean, it even includes a sort-of-bad word in the TITLE.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the actual book. Would it be a 'how love and understanding fixed my bully' book? Would it be a "This is why I was such a tough little b*itch and how I learned to do better" book?

It was neither of those. It was better.

Piddy (short for Piedad, and my biggest complaint about the book--why give your character a name that is so close to piddle?) has just switched schools. She is informed that, yes, Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. She doesn't even know who Yaqui is, and when she figures it out, she has no idea why some girl she doesn't even have any classes with is out to get her.
Eventually she figures it out--or thinks she does--and eventually Y.G. kicks her ass--or thinks she does.

Piddy (ick) herself is not the most interesting character in this book. She is missing her best friend, wondering about her absent father, scared sh*tless of Yaqui, adores her glamorous "auntie," and is frustrated beyond words by her no-nonsense mother. She is a talented writer. She loves animals, especially elephants. She works part-time and is a good student. Now you know as much about her as I did after reading most of the novel. The thing is--that's really all Piddy knows about herself until then also.

"Teenager learns who they really are through struggles," is hardly a new book idea. Medina lifts her bland protagonist into better territory by surrounding her with characters who do know what's up, with themselves, if not with everything. Bossy Darlene and geeky Rob, Piddy's new sort-of-friends. Gorgeous Lila, her mom's best friend and nearly co-parent to Piddy. Serious Mom and her refusal to talk about the man who left her with Piddy was born. Joey Halper, the kid downstairs whose dad regularly beats his mom while the entire apartment building cringes and ignores it. Even minor characters--the principal, an English teacher, Lila's boyfriend, Piddy's boss--are vivid, real. Piddy's world is full of people who not only love her, but who show her different ways of being. She tries several of them on for size, and eventually figures out how to be herself in her own way.

Owing to the title, this book has been banned, and the author dis-invited from visiting a school she'd been invited to--even though they knew the title when they invited her.

3.5/5 stars.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
pub.: Candlewick Press
pub. date: 2013
260 pages
PG--physical violence/bullying. "Homo" is written on a boy's locker. Teenagers make out.

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