One morning on her way in to school, Piddy Sanchez is confronted by a girl who informs her that, “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.” Piddy’s life has already been turned upside down. Her best friend has moved away, and after a collapsed staircase in their apartment building, her mom has decided they need to move, too. So Piddy finds herself starting over at a new school. She has no idea who Yaqui is or what she might have done to cause offense. As Yaqui and her gang turn up the pressure, fear and anxiety take over Piddy’s life. The harassment escalates, climaxing in a brutal beating. When a video of the beating shows up on YouTube, Piddy spirals into depression and refuses to return to school.
This is a brutally honest depiction of the dynamics of bullying and its devastating effect on the victim. One of the first pieces of advice for victims is to tell an adult. Why doesn’t Piddy ask for help? There are adults in her life who see that something is wrong and want to help. But Piddy believes that adult intervention will only make things worse. Medina makes an interesting parallel between someone who is bullied and victims of domestic violence. For years Piddy has watched a neighbor refuse help after being abused by her husband, wondering why the woman always turned the police away if a neighbor called them. Alert readers will see the parallel in Piddy’s reactions.
In the end, a friend helps Piddy decide to talk about the problem. But that is not the end. There is no happy ever after in this book. Even though the beating is caught on video, pressing charges against Yaqui won’t solve anything. Yaqui’s friends will still be around and will blame Piddy, leading to more bullying. I really liked the honest way this book approaches the issue of bullying. There are no easy answers, even when you can prove what happened. And even when things are going better for Piddy, she still struggles with the emotional aftermath of what happened to her.
This unflinching look at a difficult issue is not an easy or comfortable book to read. But it certainly rewards the effort. I highly recommend this book for teens, their parents, and those who work with teens. The audio book is also excellent. Roxanne Hernandez does a great job of bringing the story to life. It would be very easy to make Piddy sound pathetic and whiny. But Hernandez makes her a believable and sympathetic character.
- Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass Audiobook Review (thereadingdate.com)