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  • Paloma Aguirre

Paloma Aguirre Reviews Gume Laurel III's Samson and Domingo & Brujos of Borderland High!

Updated: Jul 15

Gume Laurel III along with Covers for Samson & Domingo and The Brujos of Borderland High
Gume Laurel III along with Covers for Samson & Domingo and The Brujos of Borderland High

Whenever I pick up a queer YA love story, the possibilities in my hands are endless. I wonder if I hold before me a tale of forbidden longing within homophobic contexts, or the story of a young person growing into their sexuality and coming out to their loved ones. I might anticipate reading a joyful celebration of queer love, or find myself in the throes of a queer anxieties and struggle. Gume Laurel III’s Samson and Domingo and Brujos of Borderland High bring something different to the queer YA market: stories of queer boys whose trials and tribulations are not centrally about their gayness.   


Samson and Domingo breathes fresh air into a familiar trope: forbidden love between star-crossed lovers. Samson is the dreamy star football player with a vulnerable secret, and Domingo plays the French horn for the rival school. Going into their junior year, the couple has to determine if their relationship can withstand the pressure.

Page from Samson & Domingo
Domingo's Brother Declares His Upset in Samson & Domingo

Domingo’s football-playing brother, Pablo, is the only member of his family who isn’t eager to spend time with Samson, and instead calls his brother a traitor (the drama of high school sports is real, y’all). Drama ramps up as the homecoming football game draws near, and Samson and Domingo discover what it means to be vulnerable and trust someone wholeheartedly.

Page from Samson & Domingo
Domingo Texts Samson in Samson & Domingo

Telling the tale through prose, text messages, and scenes of teenagers hanging out in the Whataburger, Gume Laurel III captures the earnestness and drama of the high school experience. Given how much angsty poetry I myself wrote as an adolescent, the use of prose in this narrative felt like the most authentic way to depict the deep emotions of a teenager in love. 


Example from Brujos of Borderland High
Ale reflects on his recent Tarot card pull

In Laurel’s upcoming book, Brujos of Borderland High, teenager Ale is a brujo who can read the past. Not only does he have to navigate all the ordinary high school difficulties—preparing for his piano performance, avoiding a toxic ex, and family drama—but things get even more complicated when incidents of forbidden magic start to occur at his school, and all point back to him. Like Samson and Domingo, Brujos taps into the intensity of adolescent love and delivers vulnerable, emotional prose. As a lover of brujería, and queer love stories, I gobbled up Brujos of Borderland High with gusto. 


On pages framed by doodles or tarot-style cards, Laurel’s prose captures the angst, longing, and rollercoaster-like emotions of teenagers in love. These books are perfect for readers who want to devour a morsel of teenaged queer happiness set against a backdrop of the Texan south. 

Gume Laurel III’s books do something that not all YA texts do— they let queer teens be more than tropes of their sexuality. All too often, young adult media pigeonholes its queer characters into narrow storylines that flatten them and showcase only negative aspects of queer identity. Samson, Domingo, and Ale are not restricted to storylines about coming out or facing rejection from their families or peers. Stereotypes in real life and literature would suggest that being queer Latinos in Texas would be a source of strife, rather than joy, for these gay teens. However, Gume Laurel III’s novels are a breath of fresh air, painting luminous pictures of young love that tug at heartstrings and have jaws drop with every dramatic plot twist and turn. 




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