In Meg Medina's compelling new novel, a Latina teen is targeted by a bully at her new school - and must discover resources she never knew she had.
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn't even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she's done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn't Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn't kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back.
At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she's never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy's life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.
"Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass."
A kid named Vanesa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She's tall like me and caramel. I've seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe just in the halls. It's hard to remember.
Then, just like that, Vanesa disappears into the swell of bodies all around.
Wait, I want to tell her as she's swallowed up. Who is Yaqui Delgado?But instead, I stand there blinking as kids jostle for the doors. The bell has rung, but I'm not sure if it's only the warning or if I'm late for first period. Not that it matters. I've been at this school for five weeks, and Mr. Fink hasn't remembered to take attendance once. A girl near his desk just sort of scans the room and marks who's out.
"Move, idiot!" somebody grunts, and I follow the crowd inside.
It's Darlene Jackson who explains the ...
The conclusion of this rough, yet heartfelt story feels brutally real. There is no easy answer. Piddy has gone to war and bears the scars to prove it. But, she also knows more about herself. And she knows that life - like dancing - requires strength, grace and risks. She's ready to step out and to set her own rhythm, in time with the beat of her heart.
(Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).
Full Review (1007 words).
I thought the references to Latin dances woven throughout Meg Medina's Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass were an effective way to illustrate Piddy's struggles with understanding her own physicality as well her place as an individual within her community. Besides the cultural connotations, dance can be a powerful way to express emotion kinesthetically.
As Salsa dancing is riding a wave of current popularity, I was curious about the various dances and music styles referred to in this novel. Salsa is an all-inclusive term referring to several types of dances with roots in the Caribbean, especially Cuba and Puerto Rico, as well as Latin and North America. The nickname is fitting as it also refers to the spicy sauce made from several ...
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