Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Title: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me
Author: Meredith Zeitlin
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot.

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowed-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 and 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.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was complaining that there weren’t really any books out there that were even a little representative of my high school experience? Well, guess what? I found one! But beyond that, Meredith Zeitlin’s Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me was also a fun read that made me want to hop on a plane to Greece.

Bona Lowell has her sophomore year all planned out. She’s editor of the Features section of the school paper and she’s got a notebook full of idea to pitch, hoping to follow in her award-winning journalist father’s footsteps. But then her father announces that they are moving to Greece for the second half of the school year. That wasn’t exactly part of Zona’s plans. Neither was finally meeting her mom’s family, the people who have refused to acknowledge her for as long as she’s been alive. But Zona doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. As reluctant as she is to move to Athens, Zona quickly finds out that this experience might not be as horrible as she thought.

A few years ago, I read Meredith Zeitlin’s debut Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters and really enjoyed it, enough that I was looking for more from this debut author. And then I never heard about anything. Until quite recently when I was given the opportunity to review Zeitlin’s newest, Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me. Having now read it, I’m happy the wait was that long because the story was worth it. If for no other reason, I loved this story because the school Zona, the main character, goes to in Athens was pretty similar to the high school I went to. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my own high school experience, saying that I struggled with finding books that reflected the experience I had. Any time I was reading descriptions of the international school Zona goes to, I was smiling. So many of the comments she made about the school and the people who attended were what my high school was like. So thank you Meredith Zeitlin for writing about a character who goes to an international school overseas. Beyond that, this story was just fun to read. Zona’s adventures with her estranged Greek family were nothing if not entertaining, especially when you start taking into consideration the cultural and language barriers. And as funny as it was, there were many instances when this story was touching, thanks to all the relationships in the story.

Bona was a fantastic character with a really entertaining voice. I loved the way that her journalistic aspirations could be seen in the way she told this story. Sure, she injected a lot of her own thoughts and opinions (this was her story, after all), but there were plenty of times where she felt more like an observer than a participant in her own life. Which is what people were telling her to do, to actually live her life as opposed to only focusing on writing about it. So it was really great seeing her start to do that. My favourite part of Zona, though, was the relationship she had with her dad. Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t read a lot of book where there is such a strong emphasis on a father-daughter relationship. I’m not saying there aren’t any, I’m just saying I want more of them. And while I’m talking about relationships, all the different ones Zona forged over the course of this story were among the best parts of this book. Seeing her get to know this family she’d never met, and see them as people who care about her as opposed to people who abandoned her mother was really touching. Relationships, of any kind, are just my favourite to read about.

Meredith Zeitlin’s Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me was a great read. I loved all the relationships that developed over the course of this story. And the fact that it was set in Greece and was filled with descriptions of the Greek islands didn’t hurt. It also made me want to hop on a plane to Crete. But that’s a different story.  

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