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Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit

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This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots. Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.” Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.  


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This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots. Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.” Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.  

30 review for Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shawna :)

    I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book follows three characters from three different parts of the world who all end up connected in different ways. Mary in the 1930’s feels trapped by her gender and she discovers love letters documenting a love story from World War 1. Gio and Jeanne live in the time of World War 1 and their lives both unravel in ways they hadn’t expected. The three stories are woven together beautifully in ve I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book follows three characters from three different parts of the world who all end up connected in different ways. Mary in the 1930’s feels trapped by her gender and she discovers love letters documenting a love story from World War 1. Gio and Jeanne live in the time of World War 1 and their lives both unravel in ways they hadn’t expected. The three stories are woven together beautifully in verse to show a story of forbidden love, the constraints of gender expectations, the effects of war, and the life of immigrants in America. It’s a really interesting book, but I wish Greek mythology would’ve played a bigger role in the story as that’s the major reason why I requested this arc. Regardless I did still enjoy this book and found it to be a powerful read. The women experience and how gender expectations are very limiting was so important to read about it. Despite it being a historical fiction book, this theme of the women experience is still ever important to read and learn about today as it still occurring in modern times. It was heartwarming to finish reading this beautiful book and find that it was based on the author’s own family history. Her grandmother’s and great grandparent’s story will forever be preserved in this book and it is very sweet. If you enjoy historical fiction or books written in verse, definitely check this one out.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Tonks

    This was such a pleasant surprise. I picked this book up on a whim since the sypnosis sounded interesting and it was on Read Now on Netgalley and I couldn't be happier with my choice! Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange of an honest review! All opinions are my own. Call Me Athena is a historical fiction book told in verse and it's based on the author's grandmother and her youth. We are following the story of Mary, the daughter of French and Greek immigrants, as she This was such a pleasant surprise. I picked this book up on a whim since the sypnosis sounded interesting and it was on Read Now on Netgalley and I couldn't be happier with my choice! Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange of an honest review! All opinions are my own. Call Me Athena is a historical fiction book told in verse and it's based on the author's grandmother and her youth. We are following the story of Mary, the daughter of French and Greek immigrants, as she struggles to make a life for herself in the 1930s Detroit, being showed an accurated portrayal of the life immigrants had during the Great Depression, hunger strikes and violent riots. Our protagonist lives in a small apartment with her parents and siblings and while her parents yearn for her to be a “Good Greek Girl”, she wishes to find love, own her own bussines and be an independent, modern American woman. Her story ends up connecting with the flashbacks we get of her parents's childhoods in Greece and Northen France, creating an impactful story. I went into this book with no expectations, but Mary's story is something that has gripped me from the first sentences and it will be one that will stay long with me. But this isn't really just Mary's story, we are also following her parents and seeing teir lives too. I loved switched around these three narrators and it was interesting seeing the different lives they've had and how it all cam down to the present, to Mary. This book is told in verse and while I generally try to avoid this format, due to finding them quite often unsatisfactory, I found it so beautiful, I just loved the writing style and the novel wouldn't have had the same impact if it was told through any other format. Being in verse is what made it special. As I said before I loved the different perspectives and they added so much to the story. We got to understand so much more about our main character and how she's got here through her parents. The author, in my opinion, did an amazing job at making all the characters distinctive, all three of them having their own, unique voices, and I never had a problem with being confused from whose perspective I was reading as I tend to sometimes have with other books with multiple POVs. While reading this book gave me this hopeful feeling inside me. This isn't really a happy book, there were many moments that were quite sad and the characters go through some hard times, the characters still managed to see hope and show the readers all the hope there is in the world. This is a book I highly recommend to anyone and it has so many great elements to it. It doesn't matter if you are generally a fantasy reader or romance reader, this is a book that anyone could enjoy and I do hope other people will give to a chance.

  3. 4 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    It’s strange how a book enters your life unexpectedly. I had opted for this novel only because it was a “Listen Now” audiobook on NetGalley. I wasn’t too happy with the cover (I somehow don’t like those highly rouged cheeks, and it didn’t seem to suit the book.) But after reading it, I must say I am pleasantly surprised. Story: The story comes to us from the perspective of three young adults: • Mary, living in Detroit in 1933: The daughter of immigrants, she has always wondered why her parents came It’s strange how a book enters your life unexpectedly. I had opted for this novel only because it was a “Listen Now” audiobook on NetGalley. I wasn’t too happy with the cover (I somehow don’t like those highly rouged cheeks, and it didn’t seem to suit the book.) But after reading it, I must say I am pleasantly surprised. Story: The story comes to us from the perspective of three young adults: • Mary, living in Detroit in 1933: The daughter of immigrants, she has always wondered why her parents came to America, especially as their life isn’t as dreamy as they had imagined, they struggle for work and money, and they seem to not have left their old traditional beliefs behind. But she doesn’t stop dreaming of breaking free from the shackles of her culture. Mary is the main protagonist of the book. • Georgios (I hope I have got the spelling right), living in Greece in 1915: With a father missing at sea, Georgios has to be the man of the house. He dreams of being a fisherman someday but with WWI, his life changes and he soon finds himself on the battleground of WWI. • Jeanne, living in France in 1915: The daughter of a rich doctor, Jeanne is still expected to follow the traditional path set out for girls. But when her doctor goes away on WWI duty, she spreads her wings and begins volunteering as a nurse for wounded soldiers. She doesn’t realise that this decision will change her life very soon. How the three characters are connected to each other is guessable once you are a few chapters in the narrative. Each of the main characters is nicely crafted. At first, some of their circumstances seemed too farfetched to be true. But as the author’s note revealed that the story is that of her own family members, my reaction changed from disbelief to awe. Mary especially is such an stimulating character for the time she lives in. Her actions are really gutsy, and you can’t help but admire the caged bird who wants to spread out her wings and fly. I am so happy her real life turned out to be just as she wanted. Don’t let the number of pages as shown on Goodreads stump you in your decision to go for this book. This is a novel written in verse, so it goes by very quickly. I am not qualified to comment on the quality or beauty of the verses as I have no poetic bone in my body. But suffice to say that it was written very nicely, with the lyrical words bringing a richness to the narrative. In spite of what the title suggests, Greek mythology plays only a minor role in the story. As is evident, this isn’t a Greek myth retelling. But you will realise the significance of the title to the story if you know the story of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The character with whom the verses about Athena are interspersed does perfect justice to the goddess’ name. Overall, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. And that helped me enjoy it to a great extent. Go for it if you want a nice historical story based on actual facts, and to meet one inspiring woman from the past. It is a worthwhile read indeed, where the writing style adds a special charm to an otherwise straightforward story. The audiobook is narrated by Gail Shalan, Hope Newhouse and Ramiz Monsef. And all three of them are excellent, lending the right amount of seriousness and depth to the narration. Even the accents are perfect and add a great deal of authenticity to the listening experience. The audiobook is just over 5 hours long as it is an adaptation of the original verses to suit the audio format. Thank you, NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Audio, for the audio ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    I picked this audiobook up from Netgalley on a whim, because it was auto-approved and I needed something new to listen to. And whew am I glad I did. This story was beautifully written, impactful, and held so much heart. Smith depicts family dynamics, life as an immigrant, gender roles, and finding love from three dual perspectives during war-time and the Great Depression. Each of these characters stories held so much love, heart, and ache. You will root for the three main characters as they come I picked this audiobook up from Netgalley on a whim, because it was auto-approved and I needed something new to listen to. And whew am I glad I did. This story was beautifully written, impactful, and held so much heart. Smith depicts family dynamics, life as an immigrant, gender roles, and finding love from three dual perspectives during war-time and the Great Depression. Each of these characters stories held so much love, heart, and ache. You will root for the three main characters as they come of age during conflicts, famine, and economic disarray. This novel is written in verse, so it's a quicker read; however if you're not a fan of in-verse novels, the audiobook reads as a typical book, just with more flowery, beautiful language. Definitely come pick up a copy from Netgalley, both formats are currently "Read Now."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A beautiful novel in verse about immigration, the Great Depression, family, love and more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bobby Hannafey

    This book was simple BEAUTIFUL and HEARTWARMING! I was very honored to be ask by the publishers themselves to have a physical copy of the book before it’s release in AUGUST 2021! Told in 3 people’s perspective, this fast-paced enchanting novel in verse is about Mary, who lives with her family during the Depression-era. Every day, Mary wonders why her parents came to America, until she discovers letters in her cellar. Mary wants to find true love, and to find a career of her own. The letters take This book was simple BEAUTIFUL and HEARTWARMING! I was very honored to be ask by the publishers themselves to have a physical copy of the book before it’s release in AUGUST 2021! Told in 3 people’s perspective, this fast-paced enchanting novel in verse is about Mary, who lives with her family during the Depression-era. Every day, Mary wonders why her parents came to America, until she discovers letters in her cellar. Mary wants to find true love, and to find a career of her own. The letters take her back to her parents past before they ever met. Based on the author’s paternal grandmother, CALL ME ATHENA is a spellbinding story, full of hope, dreams, and love. A beautiful, unputdownable novel that everyone should read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lacey

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. I started reading this book because it was on ‘Read Now’ on NetGalley, not knowing what to expect. It is blurbed by one of my favorite authors, Ruta Sepetys, but other than that I had no idea what it was about or anything. But I am glad I picked it up because it turned out to be a story about living life as an immigrant, family, love, and more during the Great Depression an Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. I started reading this book because it was on ‘Read Now’ on NetGalley, not knowing what to expect. It is blurbed by one of my favorite authors, Ruta Sepetys, but other than that I had no idea what it was about or anything. But I am glad I picked it up because it turned out to be a story about living life as an immigrant, family, love, and more during the Great Depression and war-time. It follows three characters from three different parts of the world who all end up connected. Mary is a daughter of immigrants born in America. She is trying to discover who she is and learning the struggles of being labeled a “foreigner”. It also follows the stories of her parents. Gio, her father who was born in Greece but forced to flee and fight in World War I so he can become a U.S. Citizen. Jeanne, her mother who was born in France who becomes a nurse so she can help people. I later found out that this story was inspired by the author’s own family which is really heartwarming to me. I love that a bit of their family’s history is now preserved in this book. It was so beautifully written. This book is a novel in verse and I really enjoyed that format. Even if you are not a fan of poetry or novels in verse I would still recommend this as the prose was so gorgeous and lyrical. You could really feel the emotion in the words and I felt myself rooting for the characters by the end. The different perspectives and timelines added depth and interest to the story. I will say that sometimes I got a bit confused on which perspective belonged to each character, but it wasn’t too much of an issue. It also could be due to my extreme lack of brain cells- This story goes over all the issues from that time in history such as poverty, war, inequality, and more. I loved how it went over gender roles because I’ve never seen that in a historical fiction before. You learn about the characters' hardships and triumphs in their individual journeys but also their journeys together and the true cost of freedom. There’s a lot of tragedy in this book, but also love. And most importantly hope. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It made me want to learn more about real people and their stories during that time and I think that’s a mark of a good story.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yasmine

    I received a free copy from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! This was a fun and short audiobook that I quite enjoyed listening to! I managed to get through it in one sitting! Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit follows three different narratives around Mary, the daughter of immigrants who moved to America. They want her to be a "Good Greek Girl" and mary a rich man in order to take care of herself and the family. However, that's absolutely not wha I received a free copy from NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! This was a fun and short audiobook that I quite enjoyed listening to! I managed to get through it in one sitting! Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit follows three different narratives around Mary, the daughter of immigrants who moved to America. They want her to be a "Good Greek Girl" and mary a rich man in order to take care of herself and the family. However, that's absolutely not what Mary wants for herself and so we follow her path to finding her place in the world. The different perspectives give this book a great energy, even though I sometimes found it a little bit hard to follow the story and the different characters (with audiobooks I just have a problem with my attention span, so sometimes I drift off and miss some small things). The narrators did a great job and I enjoyed listening to them talk! Even though the characters go through a lot of hardship and some sad events, this book has a joyful feel about it and I would gladly listen to it again!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Diza (Diana G.)

    4.5 🌟 Thanks Netgalley for the digital ARC. This is the first novel I read in verse. Also I'm not use to read in English so much, but i wanted to practice and this book helped a Lot (ive learned more vocab also). This book is about Mary, and her desire to be A Modern American Woman instead of a Good Greek Girl . She tells us about her life and how rude was the 30s for her family. But also, this book is about her parents, Gio and Jeanne, and their own life Journey. This story has ups and downs, 4.5 🌟 Thanks Netgalley for the digital ARC. This is the first novel I read in verse. Also I'm not use to read in English so much, but i wanted to practice and this book helped a Lot (ive learned more vocab also). This book is about Mary, and her desire to be A Modern American Woman instead of a Good Greek Girl . She tells us about her life and how rude was the 30s for her family. But also, this book is about her parents, Gio and Jeanne, and their own life Journey. This story has ups and downs, but most important has a real history between their lines. Because life is not easy, but we keep trying.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aashi Rath

    “Grief consumes like a brush fire. It begins with a glowing cinder. You think you can smother with your boot, as you tap and kick and stomp, it spreads across the grass. Once the spark grows, it has a will of its own” Thank you NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an audiobook arc of this book Rating:⭐.5 So, I recently came to know the main character is named Mary and now Marie. Cool. I’m okay. I was reading the audiobook version, what did you expect? I will get “Grief consumes like a brush fire. It begins with a glowing cinder. You think you can smother with your boot, as you tap and kick and stomp, it spreads across the grass. Once the spark grows, it has a will of its own” Thank you NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an audiobook arc of this book Rating:⭐.5 So, I recently came to know the main character is named Mary and now Marie. Cool. I’m okay. I was reading the audiobook version, what did you expect? I will get straight to the point. I didn’t like this book. I didn’t understand anything out of it except that there is a main character called Marie—no wait its Mary and something related to marriage and letters. I was hoping that it might get better and everything will start to make sense but here’s the truth. It doesn’t get better. It never does. I feel sick of myself for not liking this book but I can’t help it. The narration in the audiobook didn’t appeal to me and I felt so distant. What I know in this book: ~There is a character named Mary ~There are some letters, marriage and war stuff involved. ~Mary is Greek! Yay! That’s it! Man! I was so excited when ‘Greek’ was mentioned in the descriptive but I couldn’t be more disappointed. The parents force ‘Mary’ to marry someone she doesn’t like or something? I don’t know. At one point, I was just skipping it. I am sorry I cant write a much bigger review than this because there was literally nothing to talk about and I don’t know how the plot was carried on in the story. The digital editions might have been really good but the audiobook was just eh. Audiobook Comments: I would definitely absolutely surely not recommend this to anyone. You can go for the physical copies but please stay away from the audiobook. The narration just didn’t stay up to the mark. It could have been done better. I have a strong belief that the author might be really good but I just didn’t like it. Sorry not sorry.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kemora

    Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this Audiobook ARC!!! The narration was amazing. I just listened to this lovely story while I was at the nail salon. This was a very emotional story. It is set in a period of time when war is the only priority. This short novel follows the life of 3 completely different people. But our MC is named Mary an American born young woman in Detroit. This story takes place during the race riots, the Great Depression and the hunger strikes. This story was Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this Audiobook ARC!!! The narration was amazing. I just listened to this lovely story while I was at the nail salon. This was a very emotional story. It is set in a period of time when war is the only priority. This short novel follows the life of 3 completely different people. But our MC is named Mary an American born young woman in Detroit. This story takes place during the race riots, the Great Depression and the hunger strikes. This story was sad but it didn’t make me cry. It was involved but it didn’t make me think. I feel like this story needed just a bit more. I had several questions that required answering and Mary’s sister was the best human ever. Honestly, once she died I wanted to put the book down. Mary seemed to lose her self after this happened. But she finally comes into her self when she decides to take a leap of faith and go for what she believe in. Give this book a try if you want to go on a ride through history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Mary is sixteen years old and yearning for freedom in Detroit in the 1930s, struggling to understand why her parents came to America if they were going to be stuck in the ways of their countries. Told from three perspectives, this novel in verse alternates between Mary in 1933, her dad Giorgos (starting in 1915 in Greece), and her mom Jeanne (starting in 1915 in Fran Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for an advanced electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Mary is sixteen years old and yearning for freedom in Detroit in the 1930s, struggling to understand why her parents came to America if they were going to be stuck in the ways of their countries. Told from three perspectives, this novel in verse alternates between Mary in 1933, her dad Giorgos (starting in 1915 in Greece), and her mom Jeanne (starting in 1915 in France). We learn about their struggles and victories in their individual journeys, and find out what the cost of freedom can truly be. I have a soft spot for novels in verse, and this was no different. Each character was passionate and driven, especially Mary, which made me more interested in all of their stories. The alternating perspectives and timelines add depth to this story, building momentum as you fit more pieces together. I also really enjoyed that this story was loosely based on the author's grandmother and great grandparents, because it truly shows the importance of familial love in this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    H.B.

    Thanks to Netgalley who provided me with a digital ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I have never read a book written in verse before, and was unsure of how I would feel about, and I absolutely adored it. In verse, the emotions are so bare and real, every moment, be it simple or life changing, feels monumental and important. The writing is simply beautiful and lyrical and really whisks you away. Connecting to each of the characters was so easy and I loved the various perspec Thanks to Netgalley who provided me with a digital ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I have never read a book written in verse before, and was unsure of how I would feel about, and I absolutely adored it. In verse, the emotions are so bare and real, every moment, be it simple or life changing, feels monumental and important. The writing is simply beautiful and lyrical and really whisks you away. Connecting to each of the characters was so easy and I loved the various perspectives provided. You have the story of Mary, daughter of immigrants, born in America, trying to decide who she is and what she wants amongst the struggle of being labeled as a foreigner in America. Then you have the story of her parents; her father, Gio, born in Greece but forced to flee his home and fight in World War I in order to become a U.S. citizen, and her mother, Jeanne, born in France and eager to help everyone and does so by becoming a nurse. The struggles faced by each person in this book is very plain and frank and honestly heartbreaking. A story like this is one that needs to be told and ready; the experience of immigrants in America, their lives beforehand, the hard times faced in the supposed land of the free, and their unending hope and determination. Many, many tears were shed while reading this, and it made me want to learn more about these types of experiences and has inspired me to do my own research. Everything about this book was poetic and poignant and I will be thinking about it for a long time.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Soula Kosti

    Truly loved this novel in verse about Mary, an American-born girl of Greek and French descent, growing up in Detroit in the 1930s and trying to find her independence. "Call Me Athena" also includes flashbacks from the perspectives of Mary's parents, which allows us to see the tough decisions immigrants had to make at that time. Colby Cedar Smith does a wonderful job of bringing her family's story to life, while also talking about the issues of that era; war, poverty, hunger, inequality, etc. Thr Truly loved this novel in verse about Mary, an American-born girl of Greek and French descent, growing up in Detroit in the 1930s and trying to find her independence. "Call Me Athena" also includes flashbacks from the perspectives of Mary's parents, which allows us to see the tough decisions immigrants had to make at that time. Colby Cedar Smith does a wonderful job of bringing her family's story to life, while also talking about the issues of that era; war, poverty, hunger, inequality, etc. Through Mary, we get to see the burdens of inheriting a culture with all its superstitions and prejudices and the struggle of keeping traditions and maintaining cultural aspects of ones life, while also trying to grow and learn outside of it. As a member of the Greek diaspora, this book touched me deeply and I'm thankful to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a chance to read this ARC.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    4.5⭐️ ugh absolutely STUNNING. gorgeous writing, made me cry, unique story & an excellent flop. -0.5 stars just because, as the book is told from 3 pov’s, i sometimes mixed up details about characters (but that may just be bc i only have 3 brain cells left xx) this book surprised me, in the best way! (ty to the publishers for sending me this arc!)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ghoul Von Horror

    TW: Arranged marriages, cultural racism, violence *****SPOILERS***** About the book: Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.” Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northe TW: Arranged marriages, cultural racism, violence *****SPOILERS***** About the book: Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.” Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality. Release Date: August 17th Genre: Historical Fiction Pages: 546 Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What I Liked: • The novel was very moving • The story flowed • The writing was very interesting What I Didn't Like: • The many times I had to hear “I am Athena”. • It felt a little bit rushed at times Overall Thoughts: Fun fact; I live in Northeast Ohio, which has a huge Greek community. It was interesting to see the history of the Greek over the generations in this book. Mary was an easy character to love. You travel with her as she deals with being forced into a marriage so she’ll bring money to her family and security to her life. That’s not what Mary wants of course. She wants love and a choice. I loved the changes of timelines as we move along into the different decades. It’s easy to understand all that Mary wants but as you listen to Mary’s parents you can see that they were searching for their own freedoms too. Final Thoughts: This book really can show you how each generation doesn’t think the one before could ever understand where they’re coming from. I love that we get to travel this path with the author. I adored that this was based on the authors own grandparents. IG | Blog Thanks to Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for this advanced copy. All thoughts and views of this book are my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Mckenna

    Call Me Athena is written by a talented new voice, Colby Cedar Smith. So, thank you for writing. This book is about Mary, who wants to break out and be herself, yet is the daughter of French/Greek Immigrants in 1930’s Détroit. So, I liked this story, but I only had the audio to go with and it’s done in Poetry Verses. It was very hard to follow this way. Perhaps, if I had the book, too it would be different. It’s hard to follow a disjointed, mostly poetic story with Audio Only. I tried very hard Call Me Athena is written by a talented new voice, Colby Cedar Smith. So, thank you for writing. This book is about Mary, who wants to break out and be herself, yet is the daughter of French/Greek Immigrants in 1930’s Détroit. So, I liked this story, but I only had the audio to go with and it’s done in Poetry Verses. It was very hard to follow this way. Perhaps, if I had the book, too it would be different. It’s hard to follow a disjointed, mostly poetic story with Audio Only. I tried very hard to listen and absorb this. So, 5+ to the Author. Mary resonates strongly with me. I just lost a lot in translation. I think a copy of the book would have helped greatly. So, thank you to NetGalley, Colby Cedar Smith, and Andrews McNeel Audio for an audio copy of this. I really appreciate it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Call Me Athena in exchange for an honest review. Call Me Athena is a universal yet incredibly unique story. Told in verse, it's a loose retelling of the story of the author's Grandmother Mary growing up as the daughter of immigrants in 1950s America while trying to break out of the expectation of what a "Good Greek Girl" according to her parents. We're also treated to Mary's parents' stories to help us understand how they came together and were the Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of Call Me Athena in exchange for an honest review. Call Me Athena is a universal yet incredibly unique story. Told in verse, it's a loose retelling of the story of the author's Grandmother Mary growing up as the daughter of immigrants in 1950s America while trying to break out of the expectation of what a "Good Greek Girl" according to her parents. We're also treated to Mary's parents' stories to help us understand how they came together and were their views on how Mary and her sisters should live their lives might have come from. This is a love story in so many different ways. The love between Mary's parents, the love between between Mary and her parents, love interest, and sister, and most beautifully written (in my opinion), Mary's love for herself as she grows into her more independent nature and empowers herself to challenge social norms. The writing was beautiful and I think the pacing and character development was really well handled here.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    I've had a lot of problems in recent years with the Instagram poetry style that really just seemed like prose with extra line breaks, but I think this book shows a place where it will work: a verse novel, told in moments and flashbacks and feelings, where the poetic style actually adds to the narrative through emphasis and creating pauses to feel the impact of the plot points and the theme. So I honestly liked this; the story was pretty straightforwardly about family and gender roles and love an I've had a lot of problems in recent years with the Instagram poetry style that really just seemed like prose with extra line breaks, but I think this book shows a place where it will work: a verse novel, told in moments and flashbacks and feelings, where the poetic style actually adds to the narrative through emphasis and creating pauses to feel the impact of the plot points and the theme. So I honestly liked this; the story was pretty straightforwardly about family and gender roles and love and immigration, but I liked the different perspectives of the different generations and having the story set against World War 1 in Greece and France and the Great Depression in Detroit made the conflicts ad challenges the characters faced so much more dramatic and impactful. Fun novel and a quick, interesting read. **Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    Rating: 5 / 5 stars This book was reading history - and I mean that in two ways. The first was the obvious, it’s a book that happens during a historical time, and it’s written about that time. The second, is that this book should be required reading for either high school or college. It’s beautiful, it’s informative, it’s something that can be annotated and broken down. You’ll like this book if you like: •Poetry books that read like a normal book - but well poetic •History - specifically the Rating: 5 / 5 stars This book was reading history - and I mean that in two ways. The first was the obvious, it’s a book that happens during a historical time, and it’s written about that time. The second, is that this book should be required reading for either high school or college. It’s beautiful, it’s informative, it’s something that can be annotated and broken down. You’ll like this book if you like: •Poetry books that read like a normal book - but well poetic •History - specifically the time of Henry Ford •Multiple POVs - The daughter, the mother prior to being a mother, the father prior to being a father. •Love conquering all and finding your person through the toughest and scariest times •A strong teenage girl who doesn’t want to be a housewife, but rather a businesswoman (in a time when there wasn’t anything but housewives) •Sad death of characters •A really good book that needs to be read by literally everyone

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Edmunds

    I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy and although it is not the usual type of book I read, I absolutely loved it! Call Me Athena is a novel in verse which just makes reading flow so fluidly. It has several p.o.v’s but the transitions are seamless and never clunky even when they jump around in time. The arrangement of the passages are very well selected. The clash of cultures in this book are something beautiful. We have Mary’s French mother and Greek Father and the pressure Mary feels to I was lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy and although it is not the usual type of book I read, I absolutely loved it! Call Me Athena is a novel in verse which just makes reading flow so fluidly. It has several p.o.v’s but the transitions are seamless and never clunky even when they jump around in time. The arrangement of the passages are very well selected. The clash of cultures in this book are something beautiful. We have Mary’s French mother and Greek Father and the pressure Mary feels to be a “Good Greek Girl” in America. Despite the hardships her family face, Mary pushes through to build her own destiny as a modern American girl. There are some heartbreaking scenes in this book, of war, death, injury and hunger. What really made the story come alive for me was the photographs the author has included at the end of the book of the family members that feature in the novel. The whole book is very raw but so inspiring and honest. A magnificent novel from Colby Cedar Smith!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Violeta

    Digital ARC provided by Netgalley Athena is a warrior goddess. She is one of the most important figures not only in the Olympic mythology, she has an equal importance with Zeus and sometimes even surpasses him, this being rooted in the earliest period of development of Greek mythology - the matriarchy. In strength and wisdom, she is equal to Zeus. She is honored after Zeus and her place is closest to Zeus. Along with the new functions of the goddess of military power, Athena maintained her matria Digital ARC provided by Netgalley Athena is a warrior goddess. She is one of the most important figures not only in the Olympic mythology, she has an equal importance with Zeus and sometimes even surpasses him, this being rooted in the earliest period of development of Greek mythology - the matriarchy. In strength and wisdom, she is equal to Zeus. She is honored after Zeus and her place is closest to Zeus. Along with the new functions of the goddess of military power, Athena maintained her matriarchal independence, manifested in her understanding as a virgin and protector of chastity. The associations between her and one of our main characters of the novel - Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants is not a hazarded one. Mary tries to prove her equality with men and her independence. She is struggling to adjudicate her right in the society of 1930 Detroit. American agriculture was in bad shape in the 1920s. After the end of the First World War, the prices of agricultural products began to fall when agriculture in Europe started growing, the Americans losing an important market. Many farmers left the countryside to move to urban areas, where they hoped to have a better life. For Mary’s parents the life in America was a new beginning. American prosperity arrived at an abrupt end in 1929, with the outbreak of the great economic crisis. In 1929, the American economic system underwent a sudden change in a short period of time, moving practically from prosperity to a very severe economic crisis. The crisis was the result of major weaknesses in the economy, which weakened and intensified throughout the 1920s. What I loved most was that the entire story was told following 3 narrative threads: the life of Giorgos, Mary’s father, the life of Jeanne, Mary’s mother starting from childhood and how they met and in the meantime the life of Mary struggling to become an emancipated young women. The entire story starts from real facts and tries to describe the struggle that a family of immigrants is facing in those years.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Athina

    "Call me Athena. She wasn't a Good Greek Girl either." First, thank you for providing this lovely ARC. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I am glad that I gave this a try. And what a lovely coincidence, that I finished this on international women's day. I might be biased because of my name, but goodness me, this little book was very enjoyable to read. Now I will admit to being absolutely shocked when I first opened the book because somewhere along the line I must have missed the bit that said t "Call me Athena. She wasn't a Good Greek Girl either." First, thank you for providing this lovely ARC. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I am glad that I gave this a try. And what a lovely coincidence, that I finished this on international women's day. I might be biased because of my name, but goodness me, this little book was very enjoyable to read. Now I will admit to being absolutely shocked when I first opened the book because somewhere along the line I must have missed the bit that said this book was written in verse. However, I am glad I missed it because I honestly would not have picked it up otherwise. Having said that, I must say I enjoyed it more than I had expected. In fact, the format lends itself perfectly to the deep feeling of "Sehnsucht" you will find in the book. What a beautiful, strong family that strives for independence and has to deal with the harsh reality that threatens their hopes and dreams at every turn. Coming from a Greek immigrant family myself, I am all too familiar with the stories of war-torn Greece and Europe that shape this book and found the book to struck a balance between the suffering and hopeful longing it portrays. The story of Mary and her parents is so beautifully connected and shows just how much people are willing to sacrifice for what they love and long for.

  24. 4 out of 5

    molly samuel

    Many thanks to the publishers at AndrewsMcMeel for this ARC, truly one of the most stunning books I've ever read. (All thoughts are my own) This is a novel in verse surrounding a young woman (Mary) living in America in the 1930s, struggling to understand her identity as an American born child of immigrants during the great depression. The author switches between three different perspectives, Mary in Detroit 1930s, and her parents Jeanne and Gio in their lives during the first World War. Linked t Many thanks to the publishers at AndrewsMcMeel for this ARC, truly one of the most stunning books I've ever read. (All thoughts are my own) This is a novel in verse surrounding a young woman (Mary) living in America in the 1930s, struggling to understand her identity as an American born child of immigrants during the great depression. The author switches between three different perspectives, Mary in Detroit 1930s, and her parents Jeanne and Gio in their lives during the first World War. Linked together through lost letters Mary finds in her house, their stories weave a gorgeous narrative of first love, loss, growing up, identity, feminism and independence. I cannot recommend this book enough. It was packed to the brim with visceral emotion, beautiful and striking imagery, and a timeless protagonist who can relate to women then, and now. This is an amazing book for people of any age, especially young women, Call Me Athena is a must read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christi Flaker

    Mary is an American born daughter of Greek and French immigrants. She live in 1930s Detroit with her parents, her brothers and her twin sister. Mary dreams of being an independent American woman but her family wants her to stay securely ensconced in her roll as the "good Greek girl". They have even arranged her marriage to a nice Greek boy. Mary finds her parents letters beginning when they met during the war and continued throughout their time apart. Through these letters she learns about her pa Mary is an American born daughter of Greek and French immigrants. She live in 1930s Detroit with her parents, her brothers and her twin sister. Mary dreams of being an independent American woman but her family wants her to stay securely ensconced in her roll as the "good Greek girl". They have even arranged her marriage to a nice Greek boy. Mary finds her parents letters beginning when they met during the war and continued throughout their time apart. Through these letters she learns about her parents in their younger years and see the early love story form. What comes from this book is a beautiful story of fighting to be yourself while paying homage to your family roots. It is the story of searching for acceptance for your true self through freedom, love and equality. Thank you to NetGalley and Andrew McMeel audio for the advanced audio copy of this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lacy

    I'm rating this five stars for the 13 year old Lacy who would have absolutely loved this book. Adult Lacy also very much enjoyed it :) I'm rating this five stars for the 13 year old Lacy who would have absolutely loved this book. Adult Lacy also very much enjoyed it :)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allison Hellegers

    A gorgeous novel in verse. Don't miss it! A gorgeous novel in verse. Don't miss it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    jess!

    easiest 5 stars this year! thank you netgalley, the author, and the publisher for the ARC this is such a stunning and personal novel, i ADORED it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    V

    Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Historical fiction is not a genre I typically reach for, but I found this book’s cover, and then it’s synopsis, a bit intriguing. The story follows a young Greek American girl who struggles to live a life of freedom and authenticity in 1930’s America. Her parents want her to marry an older man who would be able to support their poor family, but Mary is already in love with another boy and resents t Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Historical fiction is not a genre I typically reach for, but I found this book’s cover, and then it’s synopsis, a bit intriguing. The story follows a young Greek American girl who struggles to live a life of freedom and authenticity in 1930’s America. Her parents want her to marry an older man who would be able to support their poor family, but Mary is already in love with another boy and resents the reality of her situation. Her story overlaps with an earlier timeline when she finds a series of letters written between Gio and Jeanne from WWI. Through the eyes of these three characters we are shown first love, familial loss, search of identity, and the struggle to live in periods of wartime. This story was very moving and poignant, partly because of the poetic writing style and partly because it was loosely based on the life of the author’s grandmother. It was so interesting to read about the hardships that individuals went through during these times, and just how many of these issues can still prevail in modern times. Mary has been brought up to be a ‘good Greek girl’ but she wants more from life than to be someone’s wife who will provide him with children. Her yearning to be with a boy that she likes was heartbreaking because while she is true to herself during these moments, her actions end up affecting her family in unexpected ways. As a woman living in the 1930's, she is further stifled by gender constraints and expectations of these times. Tradition and heritage are other themes prevalent throughout this novel. Jeanne and Gio’s lives in France and Greece, respectively, show us the difficult choices that individuals often have to make in the name of survival. I especially enjoyed the moments where the stories of these three main characters connected and came together despite their different origins and experiences. I liked the multi-narrator style of the audiobook with all three narrators providing further emotional impact on top of the lovely writing style. Overall, this was a great debut novel from Colby Cedar Smith.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tahera

    Listening to the audiobook turned out to be a lovely experience . It was under 'Listen Now' on NetGalley and I almost, almost decided against clicking on it.....thankfully I did! The novel itself is written in verse and I feel that is the reason why the audiobook sounds so good with a poetic feel to it. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother Mary's life and follows the story arc of three characters--Mary as a teenager living in Detroit in the 1930s during the time of the Listening to the audiobook turned out to be a lovely experience . It was under 'Listen Now' on NetGalley and I almost, almost decided against clicking on it.....thankfully I did! The novel itself is written in verse and I feel that is the reason why the audiobook sounds so good with a poetic feel to it. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother Mary's life and follows the story arc of three characters--Mary as a teenager living in Detroit in the 1930s during the time of the Great Depression, Georgois (Gio) a Greek fisherman and Jeanne a French nurse both during the First World War. The relationship between these three characters is gradually revealed as the story progresses. The narration is done by three different voice artists, (one for each main character) Gail Shalan, Hope Newhouse and Ramiz Monsef and all three do a very good job of bringing their respective character to life. Although the written book is over 500 pages long, the audiobook lasts only 5 hours. My thanks to NetGalley, the audiobook publisher Andrews McMeel Audio and the author Colby Cedar Smith for the audio ARC of the book. I had finished listening to this book way before its official release date and I apologise for sharing my review late.

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