A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Scott, the main character, is into reading, writing, and language. Many books and authors mentioned, including Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry, Of Mice and Men, and Unwind. Lots of interesting vocabulary, puns, and wordplay. A situation involving a school-board election, the board's ideological shift, and the effect on the high school curriculum is a plot point, which ties into current events.
Learn to put your ego aside and admit other people are right. You can learn from and work with people you might not like very much. If you overthink everything, you can hold yourself back, so learn to get out of your own way when necessary. Being smart isn't enough in life; you also need to work hard and get along with others. Be a supportive, caring friend and family member.
Positive Role Models
Scott has his faults, chief among them his arrogance, but he's a good kid. He writes a journal about life for his baby brother to read one day, defends and befriends a bullied freshman, and is a good friend, son, and brother. Lee's a strong, smart, funny, female character. English teacher Mr. Franka gives Scott good advice and acts as a mentor to Scott and other students. Scott's parents always take time to check in with him and give him life advice. Other minor characters, such as Bobby, Amala, and Wesley, are supportive and caring.
Violence & Scariness
The little violence in the book is related to a few instances of bullying: Bullies knock books out of kids' hands, steal a cap, try to keep a kid from using the restroom, and toss a kid in a Dumpster.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Once scene with mild kissing.
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"Butt," "crap," and "turd."
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Products & Purchases
A UPS delivery is mentioned, and there's a reference to the tradition of dousing a winning coach with Gatorade.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know David Lubar's Sophomores and Other Oxymorons follows Scott Hudson through his sophomore year of high school. After a rough freshman year, which is covered in the popular prequel Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, Scott encounters a much tougher school schedule, intractable teachers, tanking grades, and a possible romance with his close friend Lee. Scott's a funny and sarcastic narrator, who gets some hard-learned lessons in dialing back his ego and arrogance. The book has many positive characters and messages and shows some mild bullying. The worst language is "butt," "crap," and "turd." There's some scatological humor around baby poop and vomiting. No smoking, drinking, or drug use is referenced or depicted.
Is It Any Good?
This humorous and charming story follows Scott Hudson as he discovers sophomore year isn't going to be the joy ride he was expecting. Scott's a smart kid, and sometimes he's too smart for his own good. In his determination to show off to teachers or write the best paper, he overlooks details and instructions, which turns out to be his academic undoing. The lesson here is that confidence is good, but arrogance can lead one to be narrow-minded and can get in the way of learning. He isn't a total jerk, though. He's sweet with his family and friends, especially Lee, a girl he'd like to be more than friends with.
SOPHOMORES AND OTHER OXYMORONS is most entertaining when Scott is interacting with his friends and family or when he's writing in the journal he's keeping for his infant brother to read one day. The dialogue between the characters hums along well, and many of the scenes are funny. Scott's a witty, sarcastic narrator, but his overconfidence wears thin after a while. Even though the book is entertaining, it could use a little more action in terms of plot, especially given that it's such a long book.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.