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Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

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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 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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 21, 2015

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About the author

Meredith Zeitlin

4 books73 followers
Meredith Zeitlin has written two books for young people (so far) and lots of articles for Ladygunn Magazine. She is also a voiceover artist who can be heard on commercials, cartoons, and TV shows (if you want to know more about that, go here: www.mzspeaks.com).

She lives with two adorable feline roommates in Brooklyn, NY, and loves talking about herself in the third person. All of which, you have to admit, is pretty rad.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 101 reviews
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews566 followers
April 27, 2015
Meredith Zeitlin's Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is one of those perfect, light-hearted and seriously fun YA novels that, in my experience, don't come around often enough. I read (and love) many dark, heavy YA books, but I think it's important to have books like Zeitlin's to provide balance and offer something lighter.

Now, that's not to say that Zona's story is completely fluffy or trite! No, Zona's story has depth; there are some difficult themes within her story. Zona was raised by her father after her mother's death and is estranged from her mother's Greek family. She has complicated, but mostly negative, feelings for her mother's family, who abandoned her mother when she fell in love with and married Zona's father.

Readers are introduced to Zona shortly after her journalist father announces that they will be moving to Greece for Zona's sophomore year, where he will be working on an important story and she will attend school... and finally meet her extended family. Not only will Zona have to leave her friends, her dream position at the school paper, and her crush behind, she'll have to face the family she feels never wanted her.

The thing that's great about this novel and Zeitlin's writing is that, while there is depth and elements that could be quite heavy and difficult, they are tempered with levity and humor. For example, throughout the story readers are treated to funny headlines and brief features articles highlighting and poking fun at Zona's experiences in Greece. These articles feature quotes from Zona and her companions, while underlining Zona's passion for journalism and sense of humor. Zona's personality shines brightly in these write-ups.

Zona always seems to be getting into some ridiculous situation or another... Whether she's being attacked by birds or stranded with inappropriate footwear, there is never a dull moment. Sometimes these adventures are a result of Zona's apparent predisposition for trouble, but, sometimes, it's her American upbringing showing.

I found the differences between Greek and American life and priorities fascinating, but there was one specific conversation during Zona's time in Greece that has stayed with me. Zona is worried that one of her new friends has an eating disorder and wants to find a way to help her, but her other friends say that it is not their place to say anything and, furthermore, their friend is likely doing it for attention. Though Zona worries she's doing the wrong thing, or perhaps being too straightforward (and American), she persists and finally says something. Though I don't believe this was strictly a Greek versus American dilemma, I found it really interesting.

I highly recommend this newest novel from Zeitlin, especially if you're looking for a fun foreign setting and plenty of laughs.

Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Jen.
1,076 reviews92 followers
April 9, 2015
3.75 Stars

This book was fun to read!

I enjoyed the setting, the characters and especially the relationships. The story-telling was done in a unique and clever way and while there is a sweet romance that develops, the main focus of the story was on Zona and her family.

This makes for a great summer read.

Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews923 followers
April 27, 2015
The perfect blend of quirky comedy & life lessons, Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me emphasizes the importance of family & of finding your place in the world...wherever you are.

Made all the more amazing by the main character's 'journalist snippets' (where she 'reports' on the happenings of her own life), this is not a book to be missed :)
Profile Image for Michelle .
2,036 reviews239 followers
April 13, 2015
**You can see this full review and more at Book Briefs: http://bookbriefs.net** 

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is a standalone contemporary romance that will have you smiling and laughing non-stop. It is a followup book to Meredith Zeitlin's Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters , but it is about an entirely different group of characters so I truly mean this when I say, you can read this book without having read the first book. They are not related other than the school is the same (I think). Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is such a fun read. I don't really have any criticisms of it so I am instead going to tell you a couple of things that I loved about the book.

1. I loved that Zona, a journalist-to-be,  and her father, a Pulitzer prize winning writer, would communicate via post it notes in the form of newspaper headlines. They cracked me up! Even the totally snarky ones. I mean Zona is a 15 year old that was not too happy to be leaving her friends and school and whole life to be uprooted to spend 10th grade in Greece with her Dad. But the post-it notes are great. I loved the relationship between Zona and her dad.

2. I loved Zona herself. The book is told from her point of view and also through a series of hilarious article style excerpts of her life. She was writing about her life as if a newspaper was covering certain scenes and events from it, and they completely cracked me up. Zona is a very witty young lady!

3. I loved how adorable typical Zona was with her new crush. She is sometimes overly dramatic, sometimes too sarcastic, and all the time a 100% typical teenager. I have seen her reactions to waiting for a text a million times in my friends growing up and my campers at camp, and just about everywhere. I loved how relate able her story was. I don't mean typical in a bad way, I think Meredith Zeitlin did a fantastic job capturing the genuine essence of teens.

4. I loved the sweet and innocent romance that bloomed between Zona and the guy that I shall not name. (no spoilers here). And I also love that it didn't take over the story. Zona meeting her long lost family and her time spent in Greece was still the main focus. And speaking of family.

5. I loved the family message in Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. I thought it was really nice the way the family aspect of the story played out. And now one more thing for good measure.

6. I loved Zona's friendships with her New York friends. It is always so nice to see a supportive group of genuine friends. I loved their skype convos, and I really liked that they we always there for each other. It wasn't a one sided friendship.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is a fun adventure abroad. Zona is hilarious and I think teens (and not teens alike) will find her endearing and cute and will see a little bit of themselves in her. I loved learning about all aspects of her life. And her journey with friendships, and love and family was a great time. Read this book!

 This review was originally posted on Book Briefs
Profile Image for Joli.
432 reviews138 followers
April 21, 2015
Oh how I have waited for this book! I loved the humor and story of Kelsey in Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters and wanted to read Kelsey grow-up through her high school years. While this is not a continuation of Kelsey's story, meeting Zona and her friends in the middle of her sophomore year, was just as fun!

Reading Sophomore Year was like going on an adventure. I loved getting to experience Greece right along with Zona - seeing the landscapes through her eyes, trying new foods, and listening to people speak "greekgreekgreekgreekgreek" and having no idea what they were saying. (I would crack up every time I saw those words because I completely understand the feeling of hearing a language with English words interjected and still not understanding a single thing).

There is so much to enjoy about the book like the style in which it is told. It's Zona's story, but we get a third person perspective of situations from the "newspaper articles" throughout. This was a great way to get more of the story with Zona having to explain everything. And I loved how Zona and her father spoke to each other in headlines. They were both witty with an undertone of snark.

The story of family was my favorite part of Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. For all of her life, her family was just Zona, her father, and their dog, Tony. And then there were her friends. They were like family to her. She was content with her life and her little family and didn't miss what she never had. But when she gets to Greece and connects with her cousin, then her aunts, and even more cousins, and then her Yia Yia (grandmother), she begins to understand why her father insisted that they make the move to Greece. There is so much joy and sadness in the reunion, but mostly joy and I loved reading every word of it.

I could go on and on about how wonderful this book is - the humor, the friendships, and the romance. Yes, there's some of that too. Sophomore Year is a perfect example of why I love to read books with teenage characters. They have so much to look forward to and to learn about themselves and a whole world to discover and experience. I loved it!
Profile Image for Candace.
646 reviews186 followers
May 1, 2015
Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me is the second book I’ve read by Meredith Zeitlin. A few years ago her book Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters came out and that book totally blew me away with it’s hilarity. It was a book I connected with extremely well. So I’ve been eager for more from the author. Despite this having a matching title it is not a series. It could be a companion but that’s even stretching it. Zona goes to the same school as Kelsey and we do see Kelsey very briefly in a scene. But there’s no other connection that I saw. Not only that but the majority of this book takes place in Greece. So new characters and mostly new setting.

I love, love, LOVE books set in other countries. I love learning about other cultures or just random bits of information. In this book Zona is to meet her Greek family from her dead mothers side. She’s spent her whole life not wanting to meet them, thinking they hate her and want nothing to do with her. There is more to that story and it is fantastic to get to know some Greek culture through an American who it’s all new to as well. Zona is staying in Athens with her father but for Spring break she goes to Crete where she spends some time with this family she never knew. So it’s only a quarter of the book or so that takes place on Crete with this family. But the time in Athens, making new friends, going to a new school, getting use to a new culture, it’s all fascinating and entertaining as well.

Zona’s father is a journalist and she wants to be one as well. They communicate often through headlines they write to each other. It was pretty cool. Also sprinkled through the book are journalist pieces that talk about Zona’s experiences. It gave a different angle to things but sometimes I just wanted to jump over them and get back to the story.

Zona is an entertaining character but I felt like when I compared her to Kelsey she was missing a little *something*. But perhaps Kelsey was so entertaining because she got herself into totally crazy situations and then had some great and dramatic humor about it all. Zona’s life was definitely different and her personality was a bit milder. She has her dramatic moments, but mostly it’s in her head. She’s a responsible teenager who thinks things through before taking action.

This was a really fun book with moments that made me laugh. But I have to admit that the author handled the serious really well. There’s a classmate of Zona’s that clearly has an eating disorder. This is a small bit of the book but adds a lot and makes you think. No one else thought anything was wrong with her but Zona couldn’t ignore it. There’s also the issue of her family. Her mom died when she was born and she says she doesn’t miss her because she never knew her. She doesn’t feel a lot of drama and grief about it. But when meeting her family she never really knew about she learns more about her mom and there were plenty of moments I found myself tearing up. There are a lot of issues to get past and it was handled well. There’s also some stuff discussed about Greece’s economy. Zona’s dad is there to write about it so it opens up some good dialogue about it. How it got that way, how people handle it. How Greeks feels about it, etc. I actually learned a lot myself but never felt like it was there as a learning piece but just part of the story.

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me was a fabulously fun story and I’m very eager for more from Meredith Zeitlin!

You can find this review, and others like it, on my blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,366 reviews66 followers
September 16, 2019
I started out as reluctant to meet her relatives as Zona (great name!) was, because they sound like vindictive losers who frankly do not deserve to know her when it's finally convenient for them, but fortunately that visit was pushed to the second half so we had time to acclimate to the idea. Great choice to give us time to sight-see around Greece and explore her first couple of months of school first. I loved her dad and their tight bond, and their grumpy little Scottie named Tony.

The ice around my heart toward the extended family melted at roughly the same rate Zona's did, which is to say cautiously -- I'm especially happy about how frustrated she was for so long at how they wouldn't acknowledge her father, instead of some BS about sympathizing with their blame of him -- and I was surprised by how thoughtful some of the ideas and concepts about family were, especially for a book that seems so light and has very funny inserts of fake newspaper articles recapping various events throughout the story. Don't get me wrong, it is definitely a lighthearted book, but it's not just superficial fluff.

Also, I had an interesting realization about halfway through the book that I kind of understand Angry Granddad's motivation in deciding his daughter was as good as dead to him anyway, because I know how I'd feel if one of my hypothetical kids ran off to Europe with some skeevy older dude instead of staying in our home state where generations have lived, a.k.a. obviously the best place on earth.

Lastly, not only does the book not hang the moon or the plot on A Boy (despite including some dates with a pretty swoon-worthy one I wouldn't have minded seeing more of), this is the first time anyone's ever explained Greece's financial collapse in a way I could understand, so props for that.

There were a couple of cliches thrown in that seemed more like hitting points on a checklist -- stereotypical gay BFF and a female friend with an eating disorder -- but for the most part it was a really breezy armchair vacation to take in the middle of summer, and I recommend it.
Profile Image for Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland.
987 reviews197 followers
May 1, 2015
The premise to Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me definitely holds potential for laugh-out-loud moments. After seeing the comparison to Anna and the French Kiss, I went and reread some of Anna. The tone of voice and situation of both girls seem similar, and I think that readers who enjoyed Anna may enjoy Sophomore Year as well.

Zona's voice is snarky, rebellious, and a total teenager. A common voice in YA lit. The plus is that readers who like heroines along Zona's vein will be able to connect with her. That said, there is another side to this coin. Readers looking for a unique voice will find it a struggle to get past the first pages. While I loved Anna when it first came out, I've since read a lot of novels with the snarky voice, and I think that I wouldn't enjoy Anna as much if I tried to reread it. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with snark. The problem is when the heroine is made of only snark; then her character remains one dimensional. Zona is one such character.

Another element of Sophomore Year that caused the story to fall flat for me is that most of the story is told through dialogue and Zona's thoughts. While actions are mentioned, I couldn't see events play out. It just didn't feel like much attention was given to the going ons. Rather, the focus of the story is on what the characters say and what goes on in Zona's mind. Furthermore, the story is broken up by article clippings that contribute to Zona's story. This is a clever addition to the story because of Zona's (and her father's) interest in journaling. Personally, I didn't like it, but I'm generally not fond of newspaper talk.

Aside: I think that it's pretty neat that Meredith's first novel was about freshman year while this second novel of hers is about sophomore year. Perhaps her third one will continue the high school story and be about a girl's junior year?


For more of my reviews, visit my blog Imaginary Reads
Profile Image for Sarvenaz Tash.
Author 11 books318 followers
October 6, 2014
Breaking News: This book is hilarious, charming, and gave me a serious case of wanderlust. I also really appreciated the realistic tone of the relationships and even the journey that the main character Zona goes through--which, like life, is not ultimately wrapped up with a bow but presented as the work-in-progress that it is.
Profile Image for kim.
533 reviews41 followers
March 24, 2022
I won’t lie, a big reason I decided to read this was so I could project myself in Greece. Listening to Mamma Mia while reading this really set the mood but it was offensive when Zona insulted the movie. This could be just me but if my dad told me to pack up because we’re moving to Greece, I would already be at the airport.

This book was a fascinating, cute, and fun quick read ignore that it took me a week to read involving Greece and Greek culture. I loved the cultural differences. Zona was a hilarious protagonist and journalist. I love the little newspaper snippets within the chapters. I genuinely laughed out loud at some moments, I’m looking at you geese.

It was also refreshing to read about a book with this plot not have romance as the main plot. It was barely a sub-plot in this case which I did not mind whatsoever. My only wish is that we had more moments with Zona and her father in Greece, especially with her mom's side of the family.
7 reviews1 follower
January 29, 2018
I really liked this book. I like it because the author put a lot of emotions. If the characters were feeling emotions, then you were. This is the kind of book that when you start reading it you cant put it down. This book was a really good book.
Profile Image for Michelle (Undeniably Book Nerdy).
1,174 reviews68 followers
April 22, 2015
Originally posted on Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks

I really enjoyed Ms. Zeitlin's debut novel Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters and her second novel, Sophomore Year is Greek to Me, was just as fun and fabulous.

Zona Lowell is the daughter of two-time Pulitzer winning journalist David Lowell. Following in her father's footsteps, Zona also wants to be a journalist. It had always been just Zona and her dad, because her mom died when she was born. Even though she's not as well off as her private school classmates, she has a pretty good life: she has two best friends (Hilary and Matty), she's the features editor of her school's paper, and she has a great relationship with her wonderful, albeit absentminded (especially when he's on deadline), father.

She is in the middle of her sophomore year of high school when her dad announced that they are moving to Greece for about six months. He wanted to write about the Greek government-debt crisis, but also so Zona could reconnect with her mother's family. Zona never knew her mom and didn't want anything to do with her Greek side of the family, especially after they disowned her mom after she ran away and married her father. But her dad wouldn't budge, and Zona was forced to leave the only life she's ever known to face hostile relatives and a new school in a foreign country. Will Zona survive her sophomore year?

I really enjoyed Zona's character. She's smart, thoughtful, even-tempered, a bit boy crazy, a good student and a great daughter. She wasn't snarky like Kelsey Finklestein was, instead she has a vocabulary I envy (especially when she's upset and she's in her "SAT prep mode") and talks in headlines with her dad. I loved her relationship with her dad. Yeah, he can kind of be neglectful and sometimes Zona is the one taking care of her dad, but he let's her be her own person and when she really needs him, he's there to talk to her. She has a lot of freedom to go about and do what she wants but she doesn't abuse it. Zona has a good head on her shoulders.

I love it when a book takes me to a different country and I am able to travel vicariously through a character. Greece wasn't on my list of places to travel to (like Zona, all I really saw of it was from the movie Mamma Mia with Meryl Streep and I'm not a fan of Greek food), but after reading this novel I just might add it. I really enjoyed seeing Greece through Zona's eyes. It was also great learning more about the Greek economic collapse and having it talked about by a local.

My favorite scene was the one with the geese. I bust out laughing because I could picture the entire scene in my mind and if I were in Zona's shoes, I'd totally react the same way. Some of the situations Zona found herself in when she was with her relatives brought me back to a trip I took with my family when we went to visit our relatives in the Philippines. I was there with her in having to use an outdoor shower and toilet, and having to use public transportation.

I guess my only minor issue were the newspaper article excerpts that were peppered throughout the narrative. Zona, budding journalist that she was, wrote about her life in news-article-speak as if a newspaper was covering the story. I enjoyed them for the most part, a lot of them made me laugh and they added an interesting flair to the novel, but sometimes they're put in the middle of a scene and it took me out of the story. I was tempted to skip over some of them and just keeping going with the main narrative and then go back later, but being the OCD reader that I am I have to read the words in the order they come. Anyway, this is a very minor complaint and did not really take away my enjoyment of the novel.

Oh, and if you've read Freshman Year and Other Natural Disasters, Kelsey Finkelstein makes a cameo here, as well as a few of the characters we've met in Freshman Year. It was really fun seeing Kelsey again.

The synopsis compares Sophomore Year is Greek to Me to Anna and the French Kiss, but I disagree with that comparison. Yes, both involved the main character traveling to a different country and attending an international school there, but Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is more lighter in tone and less focused on the romance and more on friendship and growing up. Overall, Sophomore Year is Greek to Me was an enjoyable, feel-good read. There's a bit of everything: friendship, family drama, high school, a light romance, navigating through a foreign country... I really enjoyed it and I basically read it in two sittings. It's one of those books that you read to get out of a reading funk because it's very readable, witty, funny and charming, like a great Disney channel movie. I highly recommend it to teens seventh grade and up, but be aware that there's some teen partying and drinking--it didn't bother me but others might.
Profile Image for Beth Rodgers.
Author 7 books37 followers
October 18, 2015
'Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me' by Meredith Zeitlin was a fantastically addictive read. From chapter to chapter, I found it hard to put it down and go about my day without wondering what would happen to main character Zona next.

Zona Lowell is a high school sophomore, deeply interested in journalism, a love inherited from her father, famous writer David Lowell, of Pulitzer prize fame. She's been given the job of writing feature articles for her school's newspaper just as her father decides it's high time to whisk her away to Greece for a news story he wants to cover in preparation for publishing a book on financial issues in the faraway country. At least it's far away to Zona, whose whole life is in New York City. Despite her father's insistence that she should feel a connection with Greece, since her mother is from there and all, Zona's desire to travel to a far-off land, leaving behind her friends, her feature articles in the school newspaper, and her crush on her editor is anything but strong. She does everything to try to convince her father of how awful an idea this is. Her mother died when she was born, and the family he wants her to meet has never been in contact. They may not even know she exists. It's too much for her to handle, and with best friends Hillary and Matt on her side, she tries - yet fails - to make her father see that their move is not a good idea. The inevitability of it occurring, though, is not lost on her. A girl has to try, though, right?

Zona's adventures in Greece start out with a newly discovered cousin, Yiota, and quickly morph into regular classes at a new school. She makes some friends, forms some crushes, learns about Greek nightlife, and explores the city after getting her bearings. Greece may not be so bad after all. However, she has to travel over Easter to visit her mother's family, and despite having her cousin Yiota to help introduce her and show her the ropes, she is terrified of meeting the people that she has always had it out for - because she feels they have had it out for her, not looking for their daughter and basically disowning her after she married Zona's father.

Despite some of her family remaining stoic and basically unfazed by her presence, others are warm and welcoming, making her question all she has ever thought about these people who gave up on her mother, and as a result, gave up on knowing Zona herself. Zona learns through her long-lost family that breaking barriers, seeing people for who they really are, and standing up for oneself despite the odds and potential negative outcomes are all important traits for someone to have. All the while, relationships (both family-wise and friend-wise) are tested, and Zona discovers that being a true journalist lies in not just doing the writing, but being the story. By placing herself in the mix, more truth is revealed than she would have ever thought possible.

I highly recommend this fun, entertaining, and smart novel. I can't wait to read Meredith Zeitlin's other novel, 'Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters,' as it's surely just as compelling!

Beth Rodgers, Author of 'Freshman Fourteen,' a Young Adult Novel
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,248 reviews393 followers
July 16, 2018
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!

Content warning: Zona’s friend Lilena has an eating disorder and that subplot lasts for most of the book.

Any book with a teenage journalist working on anything from the school paper to the local paper (usually as an intern) is almost automatically Paigebait. When you’ve been watching the news regularly since you were eleven and nearly went into journalism as a career, it’s relevant to your interests. It runs in the blood; my awful granny was a journalist when she was sober enough to work! Best story: she went to cover a plane crash and came home high as hell because the plane had been carrying a massive load of marijuana.

Zona’s adventures in Greece can be just as ridiculous as Granny’s pot plane experience, but there’s plenty of heart to be found as well. In addition to being in Greece so her dad can write a book on the country’s economic woes, she’s there to get to know her dearly departed mother’s family. Though they cut her mom Helene out of their lives when she left to marry Zona’s significantly-older-than-she-was father, it seems they’d like to get to know Zona. Well, some of them.

Yessir, the path doesn’t always run smooth as Zona spends time with her Greek relatives on Crete. One of her uncles will barely speak to her, most of them can’t speak English and therefore struggle to communicate with her, and then there’s that time when she’s staying with her great-grandmother (the family matriarch) and gets attacked by demon geese in the outdoor bathroom… Lord, that geese incident is one of the most memorable things about a book that’s fun while you’re reading it but largely unremarkable once you’re done.

Though the book focuses largely on Zona coming to love the side of her family that she’s never known, we get a lively experience with Greek culture too! Her new friends at the international school she attends are pretty familiar with Athens and Zona often ends up tossed headfirst into what easygoing, party-loving Greek people do to have fun. Though Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is light on the romance, the hilarious outcome of her first crush and the success of her second one give readers even more to enjoy.

Simply put, this is a light, breezy read that would be right at home as your beach book this summer. It’s not a book that makes me enthusiastic, but even I don’t always want that! Sometimes, I just want a fluffy thing and Sophomore Year is Greek to Me is a fluffy thing. What else is there to say?
Profile Image for ana.
26 reviews16 followers
July 15, 2015
This one of my first non-fantasy YA novels in a couple of months, and I couldn't have picked a better book to get back into this genre. Sophomore Year Is Greek To Me is about Zona Lowell's trip to Athens, Greece with her journalist father to reconnect with her mother's large Greek family. I truly enjoyed Zona's take on Greece and her family. I loved the messages that were sprinkled throughout this novel, along with bits of quirky humor that made this book shine in its own way. I will soon be insisting that all my friends read this book immediately.
Profile Image for Catiebug.
112 reviews10 followers
June 20, 2017
I absolutely loved Meredith's first book Freshman Year and I loved Sophomore year just as much! I was so excited when I saw that she was writing this book and was even more excited when I found out I was getting an early copy! I loved Zona and I loved seeing her change and grow and learn about life. I loved that there was a little romance but was in no way the main focus of the store. I love how light heart, funny and fun Meredith's books are and can't wait for more.
Profile Image for Lucas.
2 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2015
Love this book! I hope she writes one about Junior year.
Profile Image for Laina SpareTime.
478 reviews19 followers
December 30, 2020
Cross-posted from my blog where there's more information on where I got my copy and everything.

(Rounded up from 3.5)

Holy cow, this was awesome. It was like little elves read my review of the other book before I even wrote it and fixed almost all the things I had problems with in that one in this one. You know, this one just worked way better for me. And I did like the first one, even with my issues! This is just... wow. I am so surprised and impressed by it. It's so funny I actually hurt my throat and my jaw laughing at one point, but there are parts that also legit had me tearing up and needing to take a minute because I was crying.

Plot Talk: Girl goes to Greece for six months. Girl makes friends, meets family, has some romance, big plot stuff that's kind of spoiler-y. It's straight-forward, but works well for the story, and doesn't try to do too much. I really liked the pacing of the book only taking place over about six months, as it's a bit quicker than a full year. You have lots of time for character growth and stuff to happen, but it doesn't feel slow, or like you're missing too much of the story because so much time has to pass between the beginning and the end of the book. It works well. No complaints.

Characters: Remember I talked about Kelsey and her friends being relatively privileged white girls? Well... Zona kind is too. She's a relatively well-off teenaged white girl. At one point she says that she and her father are considered "poor" at her school. Sweetie. Your father is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and you live in an apartment in New York. That you can afford to keep while living in Greece. GREECE. You aren't poor. And you kind of have to work with that for a bit, because honestly it takes a minute to not be a little jealous about the girl who gets to live in Greece for half a year and keeps complaining about it.

But the growth works really, really well. Zona has her world view challenged, including her views about her family and herself, and she really has to think about how she's going to react to things. There are a lot of very interesting characters, and Zona's large Greek family is amazing, and lovely, and they really do shine. Zona's relationship with her father is super sweet, and I really adored how much time was spent on her relationship with family. Zona is also so, so funny, and I really liked the newspaper aspect. She's very passionate about it, but she's also experiencing some writer's block, and that is so relateable.

For the most part, the characters are pretty strong in this. Some fall down a little, but some are amazing. I would read like eight books just about Zona spending time in Greece with her family. The author is great at writing a large cast of characters without them blending together.

And (this is a bit of a spoiler so just skip to the next section if you don't want to see it) I really liked that the romance in the book is generally a bit casual. Zona has lots of crushes on boys, but family is more important to her, and it's shown that just because you like a boy doesn't mean you date them forever. It works so well, and I love that message. It's not treated as a bad thing that dating doesn't last forever, either, or even something to really be sad about. It just is. (End spoiler.)

PG-13 stuff: There's some underage drinking, and I like the way it's handled. The drinking age in Greece is 18, but the attitude is very different than in the US, and it is not strictly enforced at all. That attitude is reflected in the book, and Zona talks a lot about how since it's not as big of a deal, her Greek friends don't feel the need to do it as much. It's a really interesting concept to see a character be basically allowed to drink freely without consequences, and... decide that that's kind of boring, and they're okay sticking with moderation. The discussion of the forbidden fruit aspect is really mature and interesting, and I really liked it.

Zona does now and then think about safety type stuff - not accepting drinks from strangers, being nervous about hitchhiking even though everyone said it was safe - and there is a subplot about a character with an eating disorder. (Which I promise isn't a spoiler - it's very clear the direction it'll go the first time you meet the character.) I wouldn't say that there's anything that a mature young teen couldn't handle, and a lot of it is really great conversation starters, or things that they might be seeing in their friends.

For the record - I never want to say that those things are bad (cursing is not a moral failing), but if you're an adult reading my reviews for teens, your teens may not be ready for certain things and that's okay. Books should never be banned, or taken away from kids, but not all kids are ready for things at the same time, and we should be aware of them when we recommend books.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I do think that there could have been more main characters who weren't white. A few side characters are POC, but the ones who are generally just show up for one scene and then disappear. Most of the characters are white. And it is Greece, but still, she goes to a school where the whole thing is that the students come from all over the world. There could be more than one vaguely not-white character who has more than one scene. The world is not that white.

Also, I like that the author seems to always have at least one queer character, and I appreciated the discussion Zona had with her Greek friends about the different cultures regarding that, but. But. At one point one of her Greek friends calls Matty "your gay friend" and Zona argues against that. The problem is, he has basically no personality besides being the gay best friend. Literally the book tells us nothing about him besides that he's gay and he has a crush on a guy. When Zona talks about missing her friends, she only talks about things he does for her, not who is is, or what he's like, or anything. It's disappointing especially because the other characters are really good.

Also, nobody is fat, and everybody is able-bodied. The discussion of the cultural attitudes regarding eating disorders and sexuality is good, but more representation would be nice besides characters who basically are very tokenized because they're the only ones in the book who represent those things.

Cover comments: I was so disappointed that this doesn't have Zona's ugly suitcase on the cover! In all seriousness, this is an adorable cover. It fits very well with the companion book so they look uniform overall, and it suits the book very well. It is perfect for reading when it's warm out, even though not all of the book is like, super fluffy or anything. (Seriously. I cried.) It feels like a perfect summer book.

Conclusion: This was so much fun to read, honestly. I loved the setting so much, and I feel like I learned a ton about Greece. The discussion, also, of some of the politics of modern day Greece is so smart and maturely handled. I thought the eating disorder subplot is also handed incredibly well, and the depth of many of the things in the book really surprised me. It's going to lose a rose for the cons I mentioned earlier, but overall, I liked this so much.

I feel like I'm always better at pointing out problems than I am at telling you the good things. The funny moments in this, guys, my neighbours were seriously about to start yelling at me because I was laughing so hard. There are a lot of (white, straight) girls in this, and they are all very different and unique. The setting is so amazing, and the description of that is so good. It's just so, so much fun to read.

Since we have two books and two years of high school, there better be two more! Junior and Senior, right? I look forward to those if they're going to happen, and I think the author has nowhere to go but up. I would read all four books if it went that long. This one gets a strong three and a half roses, and a strong recommendation as long as you take into mind the things I mentioned.
Profile Image for Rosemary Blevins.
7 reviews1 follower
March 9, 2018
Finally, after dozens of (somewhat) routine trips to the local Dollar Stores, I've found another book of interest to me.

I'll admit, at first, I picked up the book as a possible birthday gift for my younger sister, but as the book sat on my shelf, waiting for my sister's birthday to come around, I became more interested in reading the book for myself.

I have somewhat of a guilty pleasure in reading books like this, aimed at girls about my age, maybe a bit younger. I usually tear through them very quickly, as I did with this one (I started and finished it all in the same Saturday), but I almost always enjoy the stories they supply.

If the bait of reading about a teenage girl being uprooted from her life and plopped down into a foreign country wasn't enticing enough, Zona's attitude was definitely what hammered that final nail into the coffin for me.

Now, before you read the rest of this, know that I enjoyed the book. :^)

The book isn't entirely anything that I haven't seen before; Zona's best friend and best gay (friend) type of circle shows up in many of the teen fiction books I've read recently, and their personalities aren't that new to me. However, Zona's misadventures struggling to grasp her new life in Greece was entertaining enough. Her big, bizarre, boisterous Greek family creates plenty of humor to keep the story rolling, but the book's lack of serious conflict left me feeling somewhat empty. Yes, she's struggling to fit in at GIS (her new school), she realizes that one of her school mates is wasting away with an eating disorder, and her father, a reporter/journalist, is trampled during a riot, but the latter comes a bit late in the book, and it almost feels a bit like a second thought. The resolution, her seemingly uptight and emotionally distant uncle coming to the rescue (paying medical bills and helping take care of Zona's father), was enough to create a finish strong enough to give the book a moderately satisfying ending, though it really feels like there wasn't much of a set conflict in the first place. The very end, somewhat of an epilogue written in the style of one of Zona's little 'newspaper articles', ties up any loose ends that may have remained. Overall, the book was good. I just feel that, personally, it had more potential that it could have lived up to. I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys teen fiction type books.
09/MARCH/2018 - Rosemary C. Blevins
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Thia Lee.
315 reviews2 followers
July 6, 2020
1 Star...

This book did not work for me. It felt like I was reading 2 different books, 1 about Zona and her greek family/life and Zona and her dysfunctional friends. The 2 just did not mesh together well at all. In my opinion the book would have been much better if the focus was just on Zona and her Greek family. I just couldn't stand reading about her friends and all their dramatic nonsense. Honestly, when Zona first met her Greek friends they seemed so creepy. I actually wanted the book to take a dark turn because I was so terribly bored and yearned for something---ANYTHING!!!

I felt the whole Matty thing was so force. It felt like the author just wanted to show some diversity so she added a gay character that was terribly forced into the story here and there. She didn't even make him likeable! He falls for an older man and is seen desperately trying to hook up with him throughout the book! I mean REALLY???? Matty was only 15-16!!!! And that is another issue I had. The characters were only 15-16 yet they were out clubbing, drinking, hitchhiking, allowed to roam the streets all hours of the night/morning and trying to hook up with grown men. SERIOUSLY! Aghhh… (rolling eyes). Not to mention that an older man had to bail Zona out of a jam with another older man at the club who had bought her a drink and obviously expected to get more out of her, oh did I mention that at the time Zona was-------> 15!!! (cringing so bad right now). What the heck did I just read?

I was really expecting something more than this. I am disappointed at how distasteful this turned out and how bored I was at times. It was so mentally painful trying to get through this book. I am exhausted, but yet so relieved that I got it over with. There were times that I felt I would just throw the book out, but the one redeeming quality about this book was Zona's family relationship---both with her father and with her Greek family. I actually didn't mind and kinda enjoyed her time in Crete, but once that ended it was back to being bored, frustrated, and exhausted.

Anyway, I would not recommend this book at all. I kept reading because of the reading challenge or else I would have most likely DNF'ed this one. I just can't believe so many people enjoyed this book, but to each his own.

Content: Some kissing, no sex, a 15-16 year old gay character tries to hook up with an older man...
Language: Very little...
1 review
March 16, 2022
One day she is a school newspaper reporter in New York, and the next day she is packing her bags for a six-month trip to Greece with her father. In Meredith Zeitlin’s novel, Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me, Zona Lowell's life is turned upside down when her journalist father tells her that they are moving to Athens for six-months in the middle of her sophomore year so that he can cover an important story. But what he also tells Zona is that she will have to meet her late mother’s Greek family that had been avoiding them for years. Throughout this novel, Zona learns the true value of family and begins to find herself despite all of the challenges that she faces along the way.
Zona Lowell and her renowned-journalistic father live alone in New York City. Zona’s mother passed away when she was a baby, but her family in Greece had cut off contact with the Lowell family shortly after her mother moved to the United States. When a job opportunity offers Zona’s father to move to Athens for six-months to report, he quickly accepts. After informing Zona that they will be moving to Greece, he also tells her that she will be spending her spring break with her mother’s Greek family. Although Zona is nervous about moving to a different country where she will be an outsider, she knows that it is very important to her father. While in Athens, Zona meets new people from her school and begins to feel at ease in her new environment. After a few months pass by, Zona finally gets on a plane and flies to Heraklion to meet her large Greek family. She is surprised when most of her family is extremely welcoming and kind to her, despite her parents’ past experiences. Throughout the rest of the novel, Zona learns what it is like to have a large family that cares for each other, along with learning about how to care for others no matter the consequence.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy, yet interesting read. The novel is written from the first-person point of view, so the reader views everything through the eyes of Zona. I enjoyed this because I felt like I could easily relate to her experiences and ideas throughout the story. Although the book is mainly written for a young adult audience, the book discusses the poor economic state of Greece and how it affects their way of life. Overall, this book was very intriguing and kept me interested throughout the whole story.
253 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2022
3/5 ⭐️ New to me author and book that I picked up from my local library for free in a giveaway. The cover is cute, summery, and caught my attention. Unfortunately, it turned out to be something I wouldn’t reread or recommend to anyone. It just fell flat for me and was not something that held my interest.

The main character wants to be a famous journalist like her father. The author includes the MC’s point of view in each chapter through a “newspaper article” that she writes. This was such a fun addition to the book that made it unique and stand out.

I liked reading a YA novel that wasn’t centered around the MC finding love. It touched on a lot of different difficult topics such as the death of a parent, eating disorders, poverty, and bullying/suicide while still being an easy read to get through. The author wrote the scenery of Greece so thoroughly, that it made you feel as if you were there.
Profile Image for Irisheyz77.
577 reviews185 followers
May 13, 2015
This review was originally posted on Ticket to Anywhere

Place(s) Traveled To: Athens, Greece // New York, New York // Heraklion, Crete, Greece

First Line(s): Just before the clock ticks over into a brand new year, one that is going to be completely different from any I've experienced before, my dad and I get on a plane - my first overseas flight - heading to Greece.

Whenever I plan a trip somewhere I love to read books that are set in location when I can so it was very fortuitous that not long after I started making plans to go to Greece I was asked to review Meredith Zeitlin's Sophomore Year is Greek to Me. The book is told from the POV of Zona who is a Sophomore in high school and who is being cruelly uprooted from her friends and home to travel with her father to Greece to finish up the school year. Zona's father is a journalist and is going there to work on a story and also to help build a bridge between Zona and her mother's family. At first Zona is a bit of a brat about the whole thing but she does quickly come around and grudgingly tries to make the best of the situation.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me can be considered a companion to Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters (goodreads) as there is some character cross over but you don't need to read it in order to enjoy Sophomore Year. For the most part I liked the narrative of Sophomore Year is Greek to Me and often found Zona to be a smart and funny character. I did get annoyed with the mock articles that were peppered throughout the story as Zona was a budding journalist like her father. I also liked the addition of her Greek family and those sections of the story. Where this one kind of lost me was the lack of a real romance to the book. There was a love interest for Zona but it was never developed much and just sort of fizzled. Which in some ways is understandable as Zona was only in Greece for a few months but often times its the romance that seals the deal for me in a book.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me Quote

The romance wasn't the only story line that fizzled out during the course of this book and so that made for a bit of a disjointed story. Things were started but then just sort of dropped in order to move on to other events. Then there was this big dramatic thing that totally took away from the light-heartedness that was begun over the first part of the book. There was just so much that was tossed into Sophomore Year is Greek to Me but none of it was ever fully allowed to develop so the whole story just feel a bit flat for me. Everything was just rushed and so I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied with how it all ended.

That said, I did like Zona's journey over the course of the novel. I like how she really discovered things about herself, her mother, and where she came from. I liked the relationships that she built with her Greek family and I loved the strong bond that she had with her father. Its always nice to see a strong, healthy parental relationship in a book and Zeitlin does an amazing job with that.

Sophomore Year is Greek to Me was a bit of a slow start for me but the pages did go quickly when I sat down and focused on it. This isn't a book that I think I'll ever re-read but it wasn't a terrible book. I liked the setting and enjoyed seeing Greece through Zona's eyes. I liked Zeitlin's writing style and do plan to read Freshman Year at some point. In some ways, I think that Sophmore Year is Greek to Me might appeal to younger audiences but older readers may struggle a bit as I did.

IR - Sophomore Year is Greek to Me

Add A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

This review was originally posted on Ticket to Anywhere

Profile Image for Jamie Kathleen.
29 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2021
i don’t want to sound like i’m shitting on this book because i loved seeing our mc explore her family and their history. but the pacing was.. chaotic? and it felt like the author tried to squeeze in a few too many moving parts. maybe if the romance part wasn’t in there, it would have felt less chaotic to me. because that was the most jarring thing. it came out of nowhere. disappeared. came back for a second. and then the book ended. i’m not sure if maybe ya authors feel like they have to do some sort of romance to have a good book but i think the pages devoted to that would have been much better spent exploring the family dynamics a bit more?

overall this book wasn’t bad but it definitely needed a little.. pairing down.
1,453 reviews2 followers
October 25, 2017
3.5 really. Zona, a high school sophomore, is uprooted from her NY home and her father takes her to Greece for 6 months. This is supposed to be a working time for dad, but Zona knows he has an ulterior motive. That would be the fact her mom, who died before Zona could know her, is Greek. When she married an American, her Greek family cut her off. Now dad wants her to know her Greek side of the family. Zona is NOT happy about this. I actually did not enjoy the newspaper asides to explain stuff.
4 reviews1 follower
October 22, 2018
I selected this book because it was kind of related to my life.I predicted it was pretty cool before i started even reading the book because of the title.I thought I would get to learn something new.
Overall I liked the book and the characters are really good. The style of the book is adventurous and fantasy.The strength of the book is that the story of this book really helps you in real life. I didn't find any weaknesses of this book.
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