Winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Author Award
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.
Available on Amazon.
Thank goodness I was never a victim of bullying but jeez it makes my blood boil to think of the unfairness and inhumanity children suffer at the hands of bullies. While I can understand that sometimes child bullies are acting out on physical and psychological pressures they face themselves, I still think it’s appalling that the victimized children are often the ones who have to find their own solutions, especially in underfunded and under-resourced schools. There is so much talk about the need to stop bullying yet so little being done for victims.
There were times I wanted to cry while reading this story. Piddy is fighting a major internal battle between wanting to report the bullying and being afraid of the repercussions of reporting. When she started to compare her situation to her friend’s mother who endured physical abuse at the hands of her husband but was always too scared or just simply unwilling to report it, I felt a major tug on my emotions. Why should a bright, ambitious 16 year old end up seeing a reflection of herself in an abused middle aged woman?
My head is filled with all the times cops have come on account of the Halpers before. Nothing is happening. I’m sorry for this fuss. He’s drunk—that’s all. That’s what Mrs. Halper always said. But now I can’t help but wonder: Why didn’t she just tell the truth? Why was she apologizing?
Piddy should be living a life like her best friend Mitzi, whose parents were fortunate enough to move out of their dilapidated apartment building, into a small, sweet home and send their daughter to a good, safe school. The tension created between the two friends as a result of their different circumstances is so sad. Piddy’s resentment is unfounded but she’s a teenager dealing with more than she should have to, so I found her snark and rants justified in this case.
Then we have Piddy’s relationship with her mom, Clara, and her mom’s best friend, Lila, who acts as a second parent. The strains on a single working mom who simply wants a better life for her daughter are harsh. They make her harsh to the point that the mother-daughter relationship is severely challenged.
However, through it all, there is love, support and willingness to try. At least Piddy has that, and it counts for a lot. The author really captures the relationships between and among the characters very well and this add a richness to the story. Lila’s and Clara’s histories are woven into the tale to explain their friendship and how they ended up where they are now.
Overall, I found this story to be very well-written. It pulled me in from page one and had me feeling a multitude of emotions from frustration and anger to sadness, relief and hope. I give Yaqui Delago 4.5/5 shots.
On another note, if you are interested in finding out more about how to help your children identify and effectively deal with bullying, please check out this website by Dali Rivera. Dali Rivera is an Anti-Bullying & Diversity educator and the creator of the Diversity & Anti-Bullying Academy (#DABA) www.dalitalks.com