Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Age: Young Adult
Series: N/A
Source: ARC from Publicist
Interest: Sequel/Greece/Love the author

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks. 
In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary. (summary from goodreads.com)

I received an ARC for review from a publicist, but this in no way has swayed my opinions or review.

Back in 2012, I read this adorable little story of a teenage nobody who just wanted something, anything to happen in her freshman year. That story was Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters. It reminded me of all the best parts of Meg Cabot's books. I loved the book and vowed to be on the look out for the author's next release.

Fast forward to 2015, and Meredith Zeitlin's second book, Sophomore Year is Greek to Me, which I officially loved even more than Freshman. Zeitlin's writing sparkles with the same wit, hilarity, and genuine emotion as with her first release. I fell in love with her characters all over again and enjoyed every moment!

Zona was me in high school. Minus the drive for a career in journalism, I'm more of a creative fiction girl. Zona was such a smart, funny, and dramatic character that I latched onto her immediately. She was this force of nature. I was so happy to see her evolve from a somewhat close minded skeptic, to a girl bursting with exciting and hilarious new experiences.

Aside from Zona herself, I loved the plot of this book. As mentioned in my rave review for Freshman, Zeitlin allows her characters to be real teens. She doesn't propagate (Zona would be so proud of that SAT word!) the idea that teens need to have everything falling apart in their lives all the time, or be obsessed with finding their one-true-love in high school.  (*ahem* CW Teen Shows *ahem*) Zona, although boy crazy at times, knew her priorities. She understood sometimes relationships aren't built for forever, just a few fun months. She helped a friend in a dire health situation. And she supported her friends, but always tried to look out for them too. She was normal!

The major focus of this book is on family, the kind you have with friends, and the kind related by blood.  It was heart-warming to see Zona's interactions with the "new" side of her family. She really tried, after some revelations, to understand their side of the story. She wasn't always perfect around them, and neither were they with her. It was deeply rewarding to see how their relationship turned out.

There's so much to talk about and love about this book I'm not sure I can fit it all. Sophomore made me want to travel to Greece even more than I already do! The descriptions were so lush and beautiful, even the ones of Pro-yia-yia's . . . rustic home.

As with Freshman, Zeitlin again tackled in Sophomore important teen issues such as underage clubbing, being offered drinks and rides from strangers, eating disorders, political upheaval, and picking a non-standard career choice. She doesn't preach about these aspects, but doesn't shy away from them either. It's nice to see alternative ways of doing things, or handling them presented without judgement.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed Matty's storyline. He was Zona's out and gay best friend who really wanted to be around other gay men, specifically a boyfriend. Having a friend who is also gay, who also isn't often interested in the men around here, I can get Zona's worry about Matty. You feel like your friend really wants that extra interaction, but really aren't sure how to help him get that or what to do about it. So, it was very nice to see teens grappling with the same issues I know some of my friends face even today, at 22!

I also very much enjoyed Zeitlin's sneaky little peak back into Kelsey's, Ben and Lexi's lives. I'd missed those teens so much!

Last thing, I promise, in this rambling and love-filled review. If you enjoy exotic destinations, amazing sounding food, scrappy reporters, mean geese, fantastic writing, and stories about the strength of family Sophomore Year is Greek to me is definitely for you! Go grab a copy today!

P.S. They totally compared this book to Anna and the French Kiss, one of my favorites of all time, so you HAVE to read it now.

P.P.S. Thank you and a shout out to Meredith Zeitlin's team for sending me this awesome book for review! And to Zeitlin herself for writing such an awesome book.

Teaser Lines: It's amazing how, when you hear "Family means taking care of each other" enough times, you start to accept it as true -- even though you believed the exact opposite for your whole life.

Happy Reading,

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