Review: The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

Collage of the book cover for THE LESBIANA'S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL. A Mexican teenage girl looks directly at the viewer. She has braided hair and gold hoop earrings and is wearing a blue school blazer. Roses surround her.

Illustrated book cover. A Mexican teenage girl looks directly at the viewer. She has braided hair and gold hoop earrings and is wearing a blue school blazer. Roses surround her.Title: The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School
Author: Sonora Reyes
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA, Romance
Pages: 400
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Review Copy: Received an electronic copy from the publisher
Availability: 17 May 2022

Summary: 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.

Review: [THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL deals with racism, homophobia, immigration, suicidal ideation, and the hospitalization of a suicidal character.]

I knew I would love THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL from the moment I saw the table of contents, which features hilarious, faux “commandment”-style chapter titles. Author Sonora Reyes does a fantastic job of establishing Yamilet’s many facets right from the start. Yami is a funny and insightful narrator, and it is heart wrenching watching her navigate the conflicts between who she feels she has to pretend to be and who she actually is.

One of the things Reyes did exceptionally well was capturing just how much everything can be when you’re a teenager and what it’s like as you become increasingly aware of the weight of your current and future responsibilities. Yami has so much on her plate, from keeping an eye on her brother at their new school to finding a part-time job.

On the more lighthearted side of how much, it was a delight to follow Yami on her rollercoaster adventure of falling for Bo. There were so many great moments between them, both while Yami was in denial and after she finally admitted her feelings to herself. I loved how they opened up to each other, bit by bit—one of my favorite scenes was when Bo talked to Yami about her parents’ décor. I spent the entire book rooting for them to get together.

I also enjoyed the focus on Yami’s dynamics with the various members of her family, especially as everything changed over the course of the book. Many of the major subplots center on Yami’s family, so I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say that Yami’s relationship with her younger brother, Cesar, was particularly great. I liked how they played off each other, from their banter to their fights to the times they had each other’s backs. The Flores family felt real, in their conflicts, celebrations, and disappointments.

Recommendation: Buy it now, especially if you like contemporary romance! THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL is a delightful young adult book that sensitively tackles what it’s like to be a lesbian first-generation Mexican American teen trying to fly under the radar at a largely white Catholic high school. Yami’s relationships with her family and the girl she has a crush on create a solid emotional foundation for a compelling novel.

Extras:

¡Vamos a hablar! | Let’s Talk! — Interview with Sonora Reyes

The Chills at Will Podcast – Episode 122 with Sonora Reyes, Keen Observer and Chronicler of Young Adult Stories, Creator and Host of the Twitter Chat #QPOCChat, and Author of The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

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