Original Publication Date: March 26, 2013
I received this ebook for free from the publisher, via Netgalley.
I've been sitting on this review since February 23rd, I wanted to wait until pub. date for it to go live, and it's been truly making me antsy.
"Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass," is what Piddy Sanchez is told, in the very first line of this moving novel about bullying. This is news for Piddy, she doesn't even know who Yaqui is. Turns out, Yaqui thinks that Piddy's stuck up, because of her good grades, lack of "Latina" attitude, and she shakes her butt when she walks. I love this premise because it shows exactly how inane the reasons are for a particular teen to be singled out of the crowd and bullied to, really, the end of their rope. Bullying is an inanity, I've seen too many books try to give good reasons to the bully for hating those they bully; that's just not how it works. More often than not it is a ridiculous non-reason that a student is picked out and picked on by her peers.
What I really loved about this book was that while the characters were Latina (and I know I missed things because of that - I really know very little about the Latina culture), they were people first and foremost. This was not the story of Piddy Sanchez, a Latina girl who was getting bullied for not being Latina enough. This was the story of Piddy Sanchez, a girl, who was getting bullied because of some ridiculous non-reason. Piddy's mother was not only "Piddy's Mother," but a woman with a rich and slightly disturbing past, first and foremost. Even the minor characters were richly written; there wasn't a single character that felt incomplete or flat. I could relate to almost all of the high school students.
Okay, now that I think of it, Yaqui's cronies were pretty flat, but they were barely characters, simply extensions of the twisted mind that was Yaqui.
Another wonderful thing about the way this book was written is that it expresses the difficulty and confusion that a bullying victim feels when trying to decide what to do. Sure, we're told over and over again that telling an adult is the correct thing to do, but as teenagers, all we can see is that if we tell an adult we'd be considered a narc or a tattletale and then the bully would probably hate us more. In fact, not only would that make the one bully hate us more, but it could possibly make the rest of the school hate us as well. Being a teenager is hard and this book expresses one facet of that, beautifully.
The chapter when all the threats come to a head, and there is a fight, is painful to read. I needed to put the book down after reading it. The humiliation and fear and desperate desire to forget it ever happened were so real. While, my bullies never made it to actually beating the shit out of me, it was something I lived in fear of for a good portion of my middle school career. Piddy's thought processes and actions throughout the entire book were so real. I can't help but wonder if Meg Medina went through something similar in high school, herself. We all have our horror stories from that part of our lives, in one way or another.
Honestly, I'd love to see this become a required reading book for high school or middle school English classes. There needs to be an update on some of the novels that we have our children reading about bullying, because some of them are so out-dated that they're down right unrelatable. This tale is horrific and completely relatable and modern.