Title: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Zona’s whole life changes when her dad tells her they’re moving to Greece for 6 months so he can write about the economic crisis. The trouble is she knows the real reason he’s dragging her away from her life in New York City – to meet her mother’s family. The family that disowned her mother and doesn’t even know Zona exists!
I bought this book as part of my teen foreign exchange romance haul, so of course I went in hoping for a romantic, Greek getaway. Boy was I wrong, and boy was I happy to be wrong. Zona would have been wasted on just a simple romance plot, she was just too interesting of a character. This book was thought provoking, well researched, and very emotional. Zona’s journey was moving and I’m very glad to have experienced it.
When I started this book it did feel like the typical teen romance novel. Zona starts out boy crazy, and her behavior screamed “stereotypical spoiled teen”. But we are actually presented, throughout the rest of the novel, with an arc for Zona where she learns a lot about herself and just grows up entirely on her own. When she gets to Greece she still behaves like a teenager for the most part but she’s much more grown up and adult that the other teens. She tries to help out a friend with an eating disorder, learns about Greek economics, Greek society, and eventually faces the emotional turmoil of her mother’s family. The portion of the book set in Crete was especially emotional and important to me. I think Zeitlin really did a great job of capturing the emotional whirlwind Zona goes through when she meets her Greek family.
I really loved Zona. I thought she was well developed, very mature, funny, and I liked watching her grow as a person in Greece. No other character in the book came anywhere near close enough for us to really know them, but we have Zona and she’s wonderful. There’s a large cast of funny characters brought in by Zona’s family in Crete, which really livens the whole book up a lot. Her friends are very peripheral and used to highlight Zona’s development more than to really be developed themselves. Zona’s father is way absent from most of the book, but they have a fantastically real feeling relationship.
I have to give this book props for teaching me a bit about the Greek economic situation. I really didn’t know anything about it before, but I think I have the basics now. The book feels well researched. Zeitlin dedicated time to learning about Greece and it comes through.
I highly recommend this book!
Have you read Sophomore Year is Greek to Me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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