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.
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
So this book is one of the sixteen I have to read for the Multicultural Youth Literature class I mentioned in my last review and while I hadn’t made any plans to review those books since they are for academic purposes then pleasure reading, I feel compelled to review this one. The book, like it’s title, is completely brazen and in your face with the story it tells. Although I have to disagree with part of the book cover synopsis; I never got the impression that Yaqui chose to hate Piddy because she was more “white” then Latina. And I can I say how stupid that there are people out there who look down or hate others in their race/ethnic group because they claim they are acting “white”?
Seriously? The summary indicates that part of this “white” is Piddy’s skin color is paler then other Latina girls or the fact that she has no accent and makes good grades. Now as a writer, I observe things (some things better then others, I swear I’d probably be a horrible witness to a crime; but things that catch my interest, I’m very good at observing) and I have seen Latins with dark skin and skin as pale as Snow White’s so it seems stupid to say that Latins as a group have a set skin tone, but one that just depends on where their origins are. And not having an accent? The girl was born in America so why would she have an accent that people would associate those of Latin-origin?
And the whole thing about good grades? Since when do white people have the monopoly on good grades. Having good grades or being well-mannered or speaking proper English (or proper whatever your native language is) does not make you “white”. It just makes you a well-educated and well-mannered person. But enough about that rant; none of those attributes mentioned in the synopsis was why Yaqui went after Piddy. Part of it was Yaqui’s boyfriend apparently noticed that Piddy lived and just because Yaqui is a bully and she led her clique of girls after Piddy just because she could.
Now as an adult with more life experience, I don’t agree with a lot of choices that Piddy made although because I work with teens at my job and I understand how people can react from emotion and not logical thought, I understand why she did. It’s sad that kids think they can’t speak up and go to adults for help about bullying. That they think it makes them weak to get help and that they aren’t a ‘narc’ to do so. It takes a strong person to realize that they can’t do everything on their own and to seek the help they need.
That being said while this story focuses on bullying and how horrible it is and how it can cause problems in a good person’s life. This is also one about family as well. A major sub-lot is Piddy’s relationship with her mother and aunt (well honorary aunt as Lila is her ma’s best friend) and of the mysterious father who left before she was born. That relationship is fractured by the bullying and the choices that Piddy makes in response to the bullying, but at the end it comes full circle as Piddy learns the answers to the questions she has about her father and her mother’s past, which also I think helps to heal her mother as mother and daughter enter a different stage in their relationship.
In any case, I really enjoyed this story and connected with the characters (except for Yaqui). I think it’s a good book for teens to read. Perhaps it might prevent some bullying as some kids who might become a bully see how what their horrible actions can cause.