The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publishing Date: May 17, 2022
Seventeen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers drawing attention for her killer eyeliner, not for being the new kid at a mostly white, very rich, Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way. After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend, she could use the fresh start.
At Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: make her mom proud, keep her brother out of trouble, and most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.
The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.
When I first saw the title for this YA novel, I immediately knew that I had to add it to my TBR. As a Mexican-American girl who attended Catholic school from until I was 14 years old, this book called to me, and it did not disappoint! I mean…look at the first line of the book:
“Seven years of bad luck can slurp my ass.”
I have yet to read a book that so accurately exemplifies the Catholic guilt that I also experienced as a young person during my time (and for a while after) attending Catholic school. Yami is dealing with so much on top of guilt for not fitting into the narrow definition of a “good Catholic”, from fear of coming out to her mother and friends to coping with her father being deported from the United States. I appreciated how Sonora Reyes dealt with Yami’s very real fears, including the possible repercussions of coming out in her religious and “traditional” family. Despite how much she loves them and how much they love her, she is still fearful of being kicked out of her home and is forced to plan for such an outcome.
“She’s right. The bible says a whole lot of things that the Catholic church kind of just ignores. Why get so hung up over this one detail?”
Although this book focuses on quite a few heavy topics, it didn’t fail to make me laugh. Yami was such a fun character. I laughed out loud so many times because of her penchant for getting herself into uncomfortable situations in her efforts to avoid anyone finding out she is gay. She’s a bit of a mess, but all of her wackiness made her such a real character.
Her interactions with her friends and family, including her younger brother Cesar and her crush Bo, are also a big part of her journey and the book itself. I appreciated that the author focused on the immense amount of pressure that her mom puts on her to constantly watch out for brother, which is something so many Mexican girls are tasked with, no matter the age. Her crush Bo is also dealing with issues of her own as a queer Chinese girl adopted by white parents. I can’t speak to her experience, but the different representation in this book made it an even more enriching read. How Cesar and Bo’s experiences are woven through Yami’s own story was just beautiful.
“‘Bo, any way you engage with your own culture is authentic, because it’s yours.’ And damn, I kind of feel like I needed to hear that myself.”
Overall, I loved this book. It made me laugh, made me tear up a bit, and comforted me in ways I definitely needed. Even though the characters are really going through it, the book ends on a hopeful note that gave me the warm embrace that I hoped (and needed) it to be.
On to the playlist! I don’t know much about cumbia, regaeton, or some of the other genres mentioned that are typically in Spanish so I didn’t add songs of those genres, but I’m not feeling bad about it because as Yami says, how I engage with my own culture is authentic!!
- Someone to Spend Time With – Los Retros
- Para Siempro – Vicente Fernandez
- Dreaming of You – Selena
- Baila Esta Cumbia – Selena
- A Dios Le Pido by Juanes
- Amigos – Okills
- Feels Like I’m in Love – Kelly Marie
About the Author:
Born and raised in Arizona, Sonora Reyes is the author of the forthcoming contemporary young adult novel: THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL
They write fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres, with current projects in both kidlit and adult categories. Sonora is also the creator and host of the Twitter chat #QPOCChat, a monthly community-building chat for queer writers of color.
Sonora currently lives in Arizona in a multi-generational family home with a small pack of dogs who run the place. Outside of writing, Sonora loves dancing, singing karaoke, and playing with their baby nephew.
Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for including me in this blog tour! Let me know if you plan on adding this to your TBR or if it already is.