Saturday, October 11, 2014

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

First impression

If you listen to the Book Riot podcast like me you have probably heard about how amazing Meg Medina is and how this book is delightful. If you are from Latino origin, like me you are going to smile without knowing it at most of the passages making reference to Piddy’s roots. A small book of under 300 pages that carries a lot of punch, huge amount of feelings and a great story about bullies.

Final thoughts

What happens when as a parent you do what you think is best for your child only to put them in a worst situation? This is exactly what happens at the beginning of this book. Piddy Sanchez stars at a new school because her mother decided they needed to move out of their not so great neighbourhood. Unfortunately for Piddy, she is not particularly welcomed in the new school, and the official bully, Yaqui Delgado, gets in her head that Piddy is after her boyfriend; the fact that she has pale skin (making her not Latin enough) has good grades and has no real friends doesn’t help. Piddy will be target of attacks, both verbal and physical that will jeopardize not only her academic performance but also who she is as a person and her relationship with her mother.

Meg Medina does two things wonderfully well in this book. She captures what it is to be a teenager struggling to be accepted by others at school, feeling like you are the only one having a hard time in life and opting for silence when maybe what you need is a helping hand; and what it is to be a Latino. Not just the Sofia Vergara image (and for the record, I really like Sofia Vergara, her character in Modern Family is hilarious) but what I live everyday: not finding the right word except in Spanish, craving food that you can’t prepare here for lack of ingredients and off course, the relationship with your family.

The book has hard sections to read, not only the bullying parts, but the way the author manages to make you feel how alone and helpless Piddy feels. You feel like reaching out to her and protecting her. At the same time you feel the butterflies in her stomach when she is happy, that’s is great character writing, when you feel what the character is feeling.

The rhythm and structure makes it that you don’t want to put the book down and don’t realize it has been a while since you changed position in your chair. The secondary characters are as lively as Piddy and it is heartwarming to see her little circle around her grew stronger as she does the same. You have plenty of examples of strong Latinas in the book, including Piddy and in her case you see her growth. I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested by the subject of bullying or if you are looking for a good characterization of Latino characters.

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