I have to admit that one reason that I choose to read Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass for my Pura Belpre' Award was because of the title. It really catches your eye and the photo on the book jacket carries a strong meaning. You know even before you start to read it that it's going to be a story about bullying.
Piddy Sachez is the new girl at Daniel Jones High School and she already has trouble. She was a top student and well liked at her old school, but when Ma has had it with the condition of their old apartment, she moves Piddy to a new home and a new school. Within the first few weeks, she becomes Yaqui Delgado's latest bullying victim. The pressure from avoiding Yaqui and her gang start taking their toll on Piddy. It finally takes the strength of another victim to stand up for herself and change her life for the better.
The first thing that impressed me about this book was how Meg Medina handled the topic of bullying. The first line in the book is "Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass." (pg. 1) It sets the tone for the rest of the story. Piddy is brand new at school and doesn't even know who Yaqui is or if she's even a true threat. She has no idea why she is the focus of her anger. Her friend Darlene, the school gossip, has to tell her the reason: "Yaqui Delgado hates you. She says you're stuck-up for somebody who just showed up out of nowhere. And she wants to know who the hell you think you are, shaking your ass the way you do." (pg. 2) It shows the inane reasons that bullies use to justify their actions. The book doesn't focus on the acts of bullying that take place, it puts its focus on the fear that takes over Piddy and the way that it takes over her life. The fear of what might happen soon has things spinning out of control.
I also felt that the book did a marvelous job dealing with the confusion that Piddy had as the victim. The adult world was telling her to get help, but the high school world told her "snitches get stitches". Piddy has no idea where to turn. Even after Yaqui physically assaults Piddy and puts the video on YouTube, Piddy fails to take action. It takes another student to stand up for her. Without it she may never have ended the bullying.
Two lines from the book that I thought were powerful were when her Aunt Lila responds to her saying she's scared: "I know. But it's you that has the real strength in all this, Piddy. You just don't know it yet." (pg. 220). Lila reminds her that she is the one with the future and that she has the power to control the situation. The other quote comes from Piddy just before she has to confront Yaqui, she says "All this time, I've been afraid of Yaqui Delgado hurting me, and now it's time to confront her--not in a school yard but in a way that I choose. No matter how she fights, I'll make sure I win in the way that matters to me." (pg. 238) I love the message that the victim has power in the situation, they just have to know what it is and how to use it to save themselves.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass is more that just a book about bullying. It has real characters that love and support each other. It show young people that no matter how overwhelming life seems, there's always a way out and people to support you .