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The late 1980s come alive in this moving and keenly observed story of one boy's unforgettable sophomore year, and his parents' surprising journey alongside him.
It's the fall of 1987 and life as normal is ending for the Malone family. With their sterile Dallas community a far cry from the Irish-American Bronx of their youth, Pat and Anne Malone have reached a breaking point. Pat, chief actuary for a struggling American Airlines, has fallen into his drinking, using the burn of alcohol to hide the mental and physical toll of his recent MS diagnosis. Meanwhlie, Anne, his dutiful and devoutly Catholic wife, has been selected as a juror for a highly publicized attempted murder trial. For the first time, Anne's attention is wavering and the questions she's buried her entire life, about God and about men in power, begin to break through.
Together, Pat and Anne try to raise their only son, Daniel, a sophomore at Jesuit College Prep. Bright but unmotivated, Dan is aware of the cracks in his family, but reprieve is found in his Honors English class, where he and his classmates are shocked into actual learning by their enigmatic teacher Mr. Oglesby. For once, Dan is unable to fly under the radar, and must ask himself what he might want to make of his life. With humor and tenderness, Sophomores captures the enduring poignancy of coming-of-age, teenage epiphanies and heartbreak, and family redemption.
About the Author
Sean Desmond is the publisher of Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central, and has been in the publishing world for more than twenty-five years. His first novel, Adams Fall, was published in 2000 and was adapted into the film Abandon. Desmond lives in Brooklyn, New York.
One of New York Post’s Best New Books to Read
“A moving family drama.” –New York Post
“[A]n evocative tale of coming of age in suburbia…Sophomores is equal parts funny and heart-rending and will be remembered long after high school or last call.” –Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
“This book is excellent. It’s such a great story. It takes place in the ‘80s, in Dallas; think Dead Poets Society, coming of age. It’s funny, it’s also sad….Highly recommend it.” –Dana Perino, host of “The Five”
"Sean Desmond mined his experiences growing up in the 1980s in Dallas for his new novel, Sophomores." –Dallas Morning News
“With Sophomores, Sean Desmond (Adam's Fall) evokes late-1980s Dallas and its suburbs with eerie precision….A rich, subtle story of family grief and love, teenaged seeking and adult angst…Sophomores is a sharp, crystalline look at a few months in the lives of a "regular" family. With a keen gaze, it captures a city in transition and a boy just coming of age. Dan and his parents will stay with the reader long after the story is finished….[A] poignant and searching novel.” –Shelf Awareness
"Sophomores is a raw, honest coming of age story....It is heartfelt and raw and portrays a family traveling through a challenging period in their lives, hoping to break the cycle, but not sure how to accomplish it." —Fresh Fiction
"Like Anne Tyler's fiction, Desmond's tale simmers as it shifts among members of the family, and an unspoken tension is present throughout. Infused with a dry and mournful humor, this slice of late 1980s nostalgia is a quietly fascinating exploration of coming of age, faith, and heritage." –Booklist
"Desmond is good at conveying suburban angst." –Publishers Weekly
"Desmond's novel is smartly written and structured..." –Kirkus Reviews
“A witty, melancholic and affecting story about a family that struggles with the curse of knowing their own failings. Sophomores is a smart and beautiful novel about growing up and getting through that readers will savor.” –Sarah Bird, author of Alamo House
“With sensitivity and great wit, Sean Desmond brings the 1980s to life in a big-hearted family saga that knows and loves its characters from deep within. An enthralling read.” –Bruce Holsinger, author of The Gifted School
“Sophomores is the most mature adventure in immaturity I’ve ever read, a mordantly funny year in the life of a teenage boy who, true to his Irish-Catholic origins, sees and feels everything. Despite what the world heaped on this kid’s shoulders, I found myself laughing every other page and wishing I was a part of the crew Sean Desmond manufactured to make the world a more interesting place.” –Eric Dezenhall, author of The Devil Himself
“Few writers have the talent to bring off a book like this—a Tom-Wolfe-on-the-Trinity, wittily observed, affectionate skewering of a particular time and place, in this instance Dallas in the ‘80s—but Sean Desmond succeeds brilliantly. It’s by turns funny and touching, and always entertaining, with nods to Bonfire of the Vanities, Dead Poets Society, The Catcher in the Rye, and your favorite ‘80s high school movie. I was sad upon reaching the last page.” –James Donovan, author of Shoot for the Moon