I understood what it's like to dread encountering the bully during middle and high schools and targeted for no reason. I also understood why Piddy didn't ask for help at first. I remember trying to ask the adults help when bullies were harassing me, but it didn't work well for me and made the bullying a bit worse. However, I couldn't connect well with Piddy despite facing some similar situations as her. Part of the reason has to do with Piddy's character not being developed enough and being passive most of the time. For example, Chapter 38 is one of the few times when she gets active, and it's brief. I knew she has dreams of being a vet, a studious student and likes elephants, but for some reasons, her personality didn't click with me. Despite having her name in the title, Yaqui appears in the story a few times in the book. As a result, she is a flat character with little personality. All I knew about Yaqui was that she comes from a rough neighborhood and has a boyfriend. The supporting cast is similarly underdeveloped.
The reason why Yaqui has small appearances in the book is that the story is not solely focused on bullying. While bullying does play a part in this story, most of that is pushed aside during the second act where it focused more on the missing father and romance subplots. Those subplots were really uninteresting for me. The missing dad subplot was melodramatic and ripped out of some soap opera that clashed with the mostly realistic atmosphere of the novel. The romance between Joey and Piddy was underdeveloped and lacked chemistry. Also, those subplots hardly had anything to do with the main conflict of the story. I wish those pages were instead devoted to something like Rob's personal experiences with bullying and compare it with Piddy's. The last part of the book becomes much better than the middle section, but it ends quickly and a little disappointing. Piddy transfers back to her old school and still slightly shaken up from her experiences. I wished it ended there because the passages talking about her return were bittersweet. Then after that part, she receives an acceptance letter from a science magnet school that Piddy wants to go to and celebrates by having a dance party in a salon. I disliked this part because it was extremely cheesy.
I'm disappointed to say that I didn't like this book that much. I did want to love this book, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.