Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

By Meg Medina
Candlewick Press • 2013 • 272 pages
Hardcover ($16.99)
ISBN 978-0-7636-5859-5
Ages 14 and up

Piedad “Piddy” Sanchez has always liked school.  It’s easy when you’re smart—even if you are considered a little geeky—and have friends who understand.  But that all changes when Piddy’s mother moves them to a different part of New York City.  The new high school is rougher and more difficult to fit into, and worst of all, a girl named Yaqui Delgado decides to bully Piddy.  The “why” is never clear, but the hazing begins with threats and ugly words written on desks and lockers, and escalates to a full scale attack in which Piddy’s blouse is ripped off and her bare upper half exposed not just to the attackers, but to the whole high school via You Tube.

In the course of the bullying, Piddy first misses assignments, then school, and finally, her sense of who she is—until a friend reports the situation.  Figuring into Piddy’s decision to come clean to her mother and the school authorities is the example of her love interest’s mother, who’s a victim of spousal abuse.

Read Related: Body Slammed!

Further subplots include the changing face of friendship following a move, and the story of Piddy’s own mother’s life—which turns out to be quite different from what her daughter had previously thought.  An insightful, painful look at the cost of bullying to the victim, the school community, and even to the bully herself, this is a sure discussion starter that also offers uplifting messages about the power of family, friendship, and intellectual ability to help teenagers find themselves.

The writing style is breezy with Spanish seamlessly incorporated, and never negates the seriousness of the story’s message.  A great read for parents and children, especially as they start on the road to the potentially challenging middle and high school years.

Reviewed by Ann Welton, Library Media Specialist, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA