Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Amid an explosion of bully books, Meg Medina's (The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind) novel stands out for its honesty about girl-on-girl violence and its intelligent, insightful narrator.

The title message is delivered to 15-year-old Piddy in the novel's opening line, by one of Yaqui's lackeys. Piddy, new to the school and the neighborhood, doesn't even know who Yaqui Delgado is. Someone who purports to be Piddy's friend, drama-loving Darlene, sits with Piddy at lunch and fills in the details with relish: "Yaqui Delgado hates you.... She wants to know who the hell you think you are, shaking your ass the way you do." Medina tackles the issue of envy between girls, when one develops faster than another. Piddy was a late bloomer ("planchadita--ironed out and hipless"), but suddenly her derriere "seems to have a mind of its own."

Medina brilliantly captures the sense of foreboding that envelops bully victims. We see little of Yaqui except for one brutal attack, yet she is omnipresent. Piddy's academic work plummets. She alienates the few people she felt close to, and skips school. When several events spur her to fess up and face her life, Piddy realizes that only she can answer the challenge posed by her mother, "The important question now is: Who are you going to be?" Medina does not force a neat ending but rather demonstrates that Piddy has the tools to stand up for herself. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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