The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Xolo Score 4.5/5
Yamilet is a 16-year-old Mexican American who, along with her brother Cesar, is the new kid at her Catholic School. Yamilet has a lot of conflicting feelings about Catholicism, but she sees this as a unique opportunity to start over after her former best friend outs her as gay at her old school. Yamilet feels confident in her abilities to fake being straight until she meets Bo, the alluring and openly Queer girl in school who stands firmly by her values. As Yamilet discovers her most authentic self, she must also work through some pain and conflict with her family. And maybe there is some cute YA love at the end of it all.
*** SPOILERS AHEAD ***
Sonora Reyes exposes how Catholic schools and their conservative values impact students like Yamilet, who hold multiple intersecting marginalized identities. The story shows that many students like Yamilet cannot simply go to school and learn without enduring racism, homophobia, and microaggressions from students and teachers alike. Yamilet constantly has to compromise her beliefs, make herself small, and ultimately internalize so much hate. It’s no surprise that Yamilet struggles to find her place in the school until she luckily befriends Bo and her group of friends, who are willing to shower Yamilet with the love and validation teenagers need to thrive.
What stands out throughout the novel is the beautiful friendship turned the romantic relationship between Bo and Yamilet. As friends, both Yamilet and Bo were able to be vulnerable with each other. They had deep conversations about how they each felt jealous of the other. Yamilet was envious that Bo’s parents were supportive of her being Queer. While Bo wishes that she had a deeper connection to her culture and heritage like Yamilet has. The level of trust they create before jumping into a romantic relationship allows them to stand firm together when their school prevents them from attending Prom.
The teenage years are pivotal in understanding who you are and the world around you. Being in a Catholic school allows Yamilet to do much introspective work analyzing how society marginalizes queerness. Yamilet feels it’s unfair to judge people for not coming out because straight people don’t need to pronounce their heterosexuality. Yamilet also wishes she doesn’t have to be unapologetic about her queerness or her latinidad because it implies that those are integral parts of her identity and are shameful. And throughout the story, Yamilet acknowledges these double standards but finds her place in her new school surrounded by people who accept and respect her complex person.
Also, Bo adopts ugly shelter dogs, and one of them is a Xolo!
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School is a dramatic and hilarious coming-of-age story that deserves a TV adaptation.
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To what extent are there BIPOC leading characters or perspectives?
How well does the author avoid writing BIPOC experiences through the white gaze?
To what extent does the author challenge white-centered beliefs?
How well does the book explore nuances between intersectional identities?