You’d think that this was just a titillating title for a silly girl-drama book.
But you’d be wrong.
Yaqui Delgado wants to Kick Your Ass is a really good book.
Piddy Sanchez is a Latina, but a fair-skinned girl of Cuban heritage. After her mother is hurt when the stairs give way, she and Piddy move away from their broken-down apartment building. They rent a house with a yard. Piddy’s mom sees this as a step upward for them. But Piddy has been launched into a hell that she couldn’t have previously imagined. Because at her new high school, where she is a sophomore, a girl named Yaqui Delgado has decided that Piddy is stuck up, that Piddy is shaking her ass–and particularly when Yaqui’s boyfriend is around.
Piddy is clueless. She never had an ass until recently, when her curves blossomed. How could she be shaking it? Worse, she doesn’t even know who Yaqui Delgado or her boyfriend, Alfredo, is.
Piddy decides to find out, but she’s in more trouble than she at first understands. And once she does get it—the fact that Yaqui really wants to hurt her—she finds herself changing in ways that affect her whole life. She had always been a good student, but she is so distracted that she isn’t turning in all of her assignments. Piddy tries to know Yaqui’s every move and worries every minute that she is in the hallways at school, lest she be jumped. Maybe she should just ditch school in order to stay safe? Her sleep suffers, her grades suffer, her friendships suffer, and her reputation suffers. Sadly, there are other students at school who know what is happening, but who don’t want to be involved. And Piddy is afraid to tell her mom because if word gets back to the school, Yaqui will really beat the crap out of her.
What’s going to happen to Piddy’s life now that this one person—out of nowhere and for no reason—has decided to ruin it?
High school housekeeping: The main plotline of this novel will keep you focused through to the conclusion, but there are also lots of minor plots that are interesting—who is Piddy’s dad and why doesn’t he ever contact her? Why is Piddy’s mom such a prude? What does Piddy’s old friend with the abusive, alcoholic dad know about life that can help Piddy? What is going to happen to those abandoned kittens?
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA lit. Super students will relate to Piddy, but anyone who has ever been bullied will also connect to Piddy’s emotional world immediately. In fact, anyone who has been extremely anxious about a life circumstance that s/he thinks s/he can’t change will be riveted to Piddy’s dilemma. S/he’ll also understand that Piddy, although she is very smart and resourceful in many ways, isn’t equipped to take on a street fighter like Yaqui whose resentment fuels her anger, who has had lots of practice beating people, and who has no parents who care what she does or who have any will to get her under control. Another important—and very realistic—aspect of the novel is the fact that Piddy has to make some changes to escape Yaqui. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair, but it is worth it so that Piddy can realize her own goals. Finally, with the help of a real friend, she learns how to keep her eyes in the prize.