Sonora Reyes is a queer second-generation immigrant who is the bestselling author of The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School. They write fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres, and their newest books is The Luis Ortega Survival Club, on-sale May 23rd! Sonora recently reflected on the success they’ve seen with The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School and what they hope readers will connect with and take away from The Luis Ortega Survival Club—read below!
Your debut, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School, received many accolades including being named a National Book Award Finalist, a William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist, a Walter Honor Award Winner, and a Pura Belpré Honor Book—congratulations! What was your initial reaction when this praise started to roll in? Has it sunk in at all? Thank you so much! When the accolades first started rolling in, I definitely thought it was a dream. I was actually half-asleep when I got the first call about the National Book Award long list, and immediately fell back asleep after the call. When I woke up, I thought, "Wow, that was such a nice dream!" Imagine my surprise when I logged on to twitter and saw all the tags! Honestly, I still feel like I'm in a really, really good dream--and I kind of am! Getting a fraction of this much recognition for my writing has been a literal dream.
The Luis Ortega Survival Club is your stellar sophomore novel and it deals with some tough topics including sexual assault and consent. Why do you think it’s important to write about these issues for teens? I think it's so important to talk about these topics because they're so
relevant for teens. When I was Ari's age, I had no idea what consent even looked like. I think if I'd had a book like The Luis Ortega Survival Club as a teen, I could have been better prepared to stand up for myself and my friends. Books dealing with consent can be healing for teens who aren't listened to, but it can also give great examples of consent in action--from respecting when someone wants to be hugged, to stopping tickling someone when they say no through a laugh, all the way to sex. It's all important, and I wish people talked about it more.
You use your own experience when writing Ariana, a Mexican, queer, autistic character. What would having this type of representation have meant to you as a teen reader? If I had found more books about people like me as a teen I would have probably enjoyed reading a lot more as a kid! Sure, there were queer books and autistic books and Mexican books, but all three in one? I never found anything close to that growing up, and I hope to change that for young readers today.
What’s one thing you hope readers take away from The Luis Ortega Survival Club? The main thing I want people to take away from The Luis Ortega Survival Club is that your story is worth telling. Your voice is important, and you deserve to be listened to. At the same time, though, you are allowed to stumble and not know how to tell your story right awa