Sophomores and Other Oxymorons

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Sophomores and Other Oxymorons Book Poster Image
Funny, charming look at ups and downs of boy's second year.

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Kids say

age 14+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


Once scene with mild kissing.


"Butt," "crap," and "turd."


A UPS delivery is mentioned, and there's a reference to the tradition of dousing a winning coach with Gatorade.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byNewtasaurus July 26, 2018

Sophomores and Other Oxymorons

Perfect for anybody going into 10th grade!

What's the story?

High school sophomore Scott Hudson's a word nerd who loves reading, writing, and wordplay. He thinks that having survived a bewildering first year at Zenger High means he knows the ropes. Unfortunately, that's not the case. In addition to learning how to navigate much harder classes and some unforgiving teachers, Scott's trying to figure out how to take his relationship with smart, quirky Lee from friendship to dating. His arrogance and overconfidence in school causes him problems, as does his lack of confidence when it comes to telling Lee how he feels. Other factors complicating Scott's sophomore year include problems with his dad's business and funding issues for the school newspaper -- working there is his favorite activity. Through it all, Scott learns a lot about life and himself, and he manages to forge new friendships and repair some old ones. As he did in the previous book, Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, he puts these life lessons into a journal that will one day be read by his baby brother, Sean.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about procrastination. Have you ever had trouble with time management? How have you dealt with it, or what ideas do you have for tackling it?

  • How does Sophomores and Other Oxymorons compare with other high school novels you've read? Do you think it's a realistic portrayal of high school?

  • Do you keep a diary or journal? Why, or why not? Do you think it would be interesting to go back and read about what you were going through and your emotional state from years past? What could you learn about yourself?

  • Do you have any fun inside jokes, bets, or games you play with your friends? How did they come about? Do think these are good ways to bond?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love high school stories and teen romance

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