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  • Writer's pictureErin Phillips

Book Review: The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School

I must preface this review by stating that I am neither Mexican, nor a lesbian. I've also never been to Catholic school. That being said, I found Yamilet, the protagonist of Sonora Reyes's debut novel, The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School, to be completely and utterly relatable.

The story begins with Yamilet and her brother Cesar preparing to start their first year at Catholic school, after having only gone to public school previously. Cesar got in with a scholarship, but Yamilet must work to pay her tuition. She's primarily going to keep an eye on him, as Cesar got in quite a few fights at their previous school. At least, that's the reason she gives everyone. Her real reason for switching schools is because last school year she finally felt brave enough to come out to her best friend, for whom she then admitted to having feelings. It did not go well. Not only did it destroy their friendship, but her ex-best friend outed Yamilet to her friend group. Starting at a new school is a chance for Yamilet to have a fresh start. She can pretend to be straight until she's done with high school, she thinks.

That is until she meets the only out lesbian at the Catholic school, Bo. Bo is everything Yamilet wishes she could be. She is outspoken and opinionated, especially when it comes to issues of social justice that she feels the Catholic church is on the wrong side of. She is also proud of her queer identity, wearing rainbow colored sneakers, and a pin on her backpack that says "Homophobia is GAY." Yamilet quickly becomes friends with Bo, and that friendship leads to Yamilet majorly crushing on Bo. However, Yamilet is trying desperately to stick to her guns and be "straight," because if she comes out and her Mami catches wind of it, she is sure she will be kicked out of the house. Mami has never been subtle about her disdain for queer people.

I'm going to quit with the summarizing now, because this is starting to feel like a book report. Plus, there are too many plot threads in this novel for me to cover here--which is a good thing. The Lesbiana's Guide is deliciously complex, and all the plot elements weave together elegantly to form the whole. I know that this is Sonora Reyes's debut novel, but it doesn't read like a debut. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.

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