Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
Tenth grader Piddy Sanchez doesn’t think is can get much worse. She’s been moved out of her childhood house in Queens New York to a “better” apartment, losing her best friend Mitzi, her familiar surroundings, and the high school she had settled into with friends and activities. Until today. “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass,” she’s told by a girl she hardly knows. Huh? When she investigates with the office student aide she does sort of know, she’s told that Yaqui was suspended twice last year for fighting, and thinks Piddy acts stuck up and shakes her booty too much when she walks. “Interesting,” she thinks to herself. “I’ve only had an ass for about six months, and now it seems to have a mind of it’s own.” Told in the first person perspective, this story of escalating bullying feels urgent and realistic. Piddy finds out that she’s not safe anywhere when Yaqui and her friends jump her on her walk home and post the fight on the internet. Her grades start going down and Piddy has to figure out how to survive–become tough just like Yaqui or run away from her problems.
This book is a fast and compelling read that deals with lots of universal teenage issues: having a single parent and wondering about one’s real dad, starting a new school, being harassed by a bully, and knowing how to reach out for help without being a “snitch.” I think readers will be caught up in Piddy’s life immediately, and will identify with the problems the teen faces. I recommend this title to all teen readers, especially fans of Sharon Draper.