A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers get a window into what it's like for families who have been separated by the deportation of a parent. While Yami and Cesar are able to be in regular contact with their father in Mexico through phone calls and FaceTime, it's left them brokenhearted that he's so far away. His deportation also puts a financial strain on the family, with Yami having to work to help out her mother.
Finding the courage to be your true self can be really hard and sometimes heartbreaking, but it will always be worth the struggle.
Positive Role Models
While Bo is proudly and openly gay no matter what anyone (including the school administration) thinks, it takes a lot of courage for Yami and Cesar to come out. Being raised Catholic means they're fearful their parents might disown them. Jamal never gives up after coming out to his mother and stepfather and being thrown out of the house. He finds a place to live and continues in school. Because Yami's father was deported back to Mexico, the family is always struggling financially, no matter how hard their mother works. Yami never gives up looking for work, works hard when she gets a job, and does whatever she can to make her mother's Etsy business a success
Yami and Caesar are Mexican American and proud of their Mayan heritage. Yami is a lesbian and Caesar is bisexual. Bo's birthparents were "second or third generation Chinese Americans," and while her adoptive White parents are supportive of her coming out, they go a bit overboard trying to be supportive of her culture, filling their house with Chinese decorations. Bo sometimes feels she can't really claim to be Chinese, and this leaves her feeling like she's throwing a part of herself away. Jamal is Black and gay and has been tossed out of his house because he's an "embarrassment" to his stepfather. There's one brief mention that Yami and Bo's friend David lives on the Navajo reservation, and a girl at school is trans. A teacher comes out to Yami. The students at Slayton are primarily White and privileged. A few students are causally racist, and the administration is openly homophobic. The author, Sonora Reyes, is a queer second-generation immigrant who uses the "they" pronoun.
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Violence & Scariness
Cesar was getting into fights or being jumped (lots of black eyes and busted lips) at their old high school. Kids in a truck try to run down a teen simply because he's Latino. Yami gets so upset she punches a mirror and bloodies her hands. Police break down a door and bash a teen's head into a concrete floor. A gay teen thinks about suicide. Someone writes "UGLY DYKE" on a school locker.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some kisses are exchanged between boys and between girls. A popular boy all the girls want to date admits he's a virgin.
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Teen characters regularly use profanity ("f--k," "bitch," "s--t," "g--damn," "dick").
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Products & Purchases
Yami revamps her mother's Etsy site and promotes it on Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter. Her favorite movie is Selena. A character wears Vans shoes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink, get drunk, and smoke cigarettes at a party. Police raid the party and breathalyze the teens, but because they're kids from the "right" side of town, no one's arrested. Yami drinks at the party "because alcohol makes pretending to be straight a little less intimidating."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sonora Reyes' Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School was a 2022 National Book Award Finalist. Sixteen-year-old Yamilet (Yami) Flores is beginning her first year at Slayton Catholic High School. Having been outed at her previous school, she has only one goal for her time at Slayton -- making absolutely certain that no one ever finds out she's gay. But her carefully thought out plan gets immediately derailed when she meets Bo Taylor, the school's only openly queer student. Major characters are lesbian, bisexual, gay, Mexican American, Chinese American, and Black. There's lots of profanity ("f--k," "bitch," "s--t," "goddamn"), teens drink and get drunk at a party, and a gay teen thinks about making a suicide attempt. The storyline has strong messages about courage, tolerance, perseverance, and the power of love.
Is It Any Good?
This sweet and often hilarious queer romcom also makes serious issues of homophobia, racism, intolerance, and teen mental health central to the story. While Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School has a queer storyline, its characters and their struggles (and triumphs) will be equally relatable to any teen who's ever felt like an outsider or tried to be something they weren't just to fit in.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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