Review of The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, by Sonora Reyes

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School

by Sonora Reyes

Balzer + Bray, 2022. 385 pages.
Review written February 21, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review
2023 Walter Awards Honor Book, Young Adult
2023 Pura Belpé Author Honor Book, Young Adult
2023 Morris Award Finalist

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School is a debut novel that introduces an author with lots of promise. Our protagonist is Yamilet, who’s just been told she and her brother Cesar are going to Catholic school. Yamilet’s job is to look after her younger brother, in her same grade because he’s so smart, who keeps getting into fights at the public school. Their mother is hoping a new environment will keep him out of trouble.

What their mother doesn’t know is that Yami is happy to go to Catholic school herself because her once-best friend outed her at public school after Yami told her she was in love with her. It turned out Bianca did not share her affection and was horrified that Yami is gay. So Yami is determined to not make the same mistake at Catholic school and does everything she can to appear straight.

But then there’s one person who’s lesbian and out at her new school — and Yami finds herself falling for her. She can’t let that happen!

And that’s not all that’s going on. Cesar keeps getting detention (at least he’s not fighting!) and spins a story for their mother that he’s on the football team. Yami’s trying to make some money, in case their mother finds out she’s gay and kicks her out, and much more. Their father was deported years ago back to Mexico, but Yami thinks he might understand what she’s going through, since he was never as sincere about the Catholic faith.

It’s all put together in a story that keeps you reading and makes you care about Yami and all she’s trying to navigate. We’re rooting for her to be able to be herself and find love as herself. I liked the way people in the story surprised her, without it feeling unrealistic.

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