"What a vibrant, propulsive, wildly intelligent and big-hearted slice of life Sophomores is, an intricate portrait of a family in crisis rendered with a great deal of humor and compassion. I loved this family, this corner of the world, this novel." -Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had

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 fall 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, faced with a debilitating MS diagnosis, has fallen into his drinking. Anne, his devoutly Catholic wife, is selected as a juror for a highly publicized attempted murder trial, one that raises questions--about God, and about men in power--she has buried her entire life. Together, they try to raise their only son, Daniel, a bright but unmotivated student who is shocked into actual learning by an enigmatic English teacher. For once, Dan is unable to fly under the radar, and is finally asked to consider what he might want to make of his life.

With humor and tenderness, Sophomores brilliantly captures the enduring poignancy of coming of age, teenage epiphanies and heartbreak, and family redemption.
"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 VanitiesDead Poets SocietyCatcher in the Rye, and your favorite ‘80s high school movie. I was sad upon reaching the last page.” –James Donovan, author of The Blood of Heroes