Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass: The Graphic Novel

Candlewick. Sept. 2023. 288p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536224771.
Gr 8 Up–Things are quickly changing for 10th grader Piddy Sanchez. When a dilapidated apartment building’s unsafe conditions prompt Piddy’s mom to move the two of them to a new home, a new school comes with it. Not only that, Piddy’s best friend Mitzi has left the neighborhood for Long Island, and for some reason Piddy can’t understand, Yaqui Delgado wants to kick her ass. As the unwanted attention from Yaqui escalates, Piddy begins to lose more and more of herself as she struggles with how best to address it. Domestic abuse and bullying are incorporated into the story, with the former never made visible to readers while the latter is, in the form of physical assault against Piddy on behalf of Yaqui and her friends. Punching, hair pulling, kicking, scratching, and removal of clothing is depicted over two spreads, as is cyber-bullying, when a video of the incident is shown to have been posted online. Despite the depiction of physical violence, the majority of the story is spent addressing the mental and emotional toll of the bullying. A minimalist color palette consisting of cornflower blue, black, white, and grays reflects the weight and solemnity of Piddy’s difficulties while also softening some of the severity of her experiences. Piddy is Cuban and Dominican, family friend Lila appears Black, and a background character is seen wearing a hijab. Untranslated Spanish is sprinkled throughout, and the preface includes an author’s note.
VERDICT A carefully and skillfully approached, modernized adaptation that is sure to introduce Piddy and provide understanding to a new crop of teen readers.

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