Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

I bought this a while ago when it went on sale purely on impulse because I was so intrigued by the title. It's one of those titles that tells a story and makes the reader wonder: "Who is Yaqui Delgado and why does she have it in for ME?" But it's actually the main character, Piedad "Piddy" Sanchez that Yaqui hates. As with most things in the girl universe, it all boils down to jealousy and a boy. Piddy has always been a good girl, but as the bullying intensifies, her grades begin to falter and she starts cutting classes, fighting with her mother, and behaving more and more recklessly.

Speaking as someone who was bullied in high school, I can say that this book really hits deep. Some readers I saw were disappointed that we never found out the "reason" that Yaqui was a bully-- but honestly, does there need to be a reason? We already learned that the bullies figured Piddy was too full of herself and resented the fact that guys found her attractive. While I understand that there are gray areas, it was kind of refreshing to see a book that completely focused on the victim of the bullying and didn't make any sorts of apologies for the bullies themselves.

YAQUI DELGADO ticks all the boxes of what makes a great YA story for me. It deals with tough subjects in a nuanced way that never feels preachy. Piddy acts and talks like a real teen and the author allows her to make the mistakes that a real teen would. A few people didn't like the fact that Piddy fought with and disrespected her mother, and all I can say to that is COME ON. Being a bratty teen is practically a right of passage. I know I was a huge pain, and honestly, it's refreshing to see a book where the kid blows up at the 'rents, but it's clear that they still love each other despite everything.

I also liked Piddy's mom, and her story as a single mother. It was a really interesting take on what it means to be an adult making mistakes while parenting, and I think it captures that kind of poignant, heartbreaking moment when a kid learns that their parents can be weak and don't always have all the right answers to life's tough questions. All of the supporting characters were really great too, like Joey, Lila, and Allen. I like that each of their characters had an unexpected turning point.

If you're tired of the cookie cutter YA books that look at high school through Disney Channel glasses, mosey on over to this book and give it a read. I know I'm tough on YA as a reviewer, but I think it's important to really focus and laud the books like this one that take serious risks. It was so good.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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