Cover Image: Call Me Athena

Call Me Athena

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Member Reviews

I loved this book! I didn't know going into it that it was inspired by the author's own family, so once I read through the author's note at the end, that made the entire story resonate even more than it already had. The verse was used very well to move between the three main story threads. It was a story that featured so much tragedy throughout but also ended on such a hopeful note. Knowing that it is based off a true story and that the author's grandmother went on to achieve some of her dreams was so inspiring. I highly recommend it, especially to fans of novels in verse and family memoirs.

TW: war violence, blood
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Call me Athena is about a young girls struggle to find herself, be herself and understand her past. Mary is from a Greek family who wants to marry her off and have her behave like a nice Greek girl. Mary has other plans.

I both listened and read this book and preferred the reading. The audio was a tad dramatic and over the top for me. I also liked seeing the interspersed letters in the text. 

I selected this book because of the cover which is beautiful and I’ve been on a YA jag lately, 

It was nice to hear a new perspective and would be interested to hear more from this author. 

Thanks to #netGalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

3.5 stars
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Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith
Publication Date: August 17, 2021
Thank you to @netgalley @andrewmcmeel for the ALC in return for my honest review.
My thoughts…
Digging it! So, my first book for August. AND, my first novel in verse! Who am I? I’m still finding out new ways to enjoy books. How amazing is that? This was actually loosely based on the author’s maternal grandmother. Set in the 1930s, the story was about Mary and her family who emigrated from Greece to Detroit. There were two timelines, one during Mary’s time and the other were about her parents’ childhood in Greece and France. I just enjoyed how Mary and her parents’ young lives paralleled each other, and how the timelines captured the different yet similar perspectives between the characters. I appreciated how the sacrifices to emigrate, the Great Depression, riots and hunger strikes were portrayed so well. A book about equality, cultural identity and struggle for independence as a woman.
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TW: Arranged marriages, cultural racism, violence 

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. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for this advanced copy. All thoughts and views of this book are my own.
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At first, I was skeptical about this novel in verse. Because with those, it’s not always what you expect it to be. But this elegant and deeply touching novel surprised me. Despite this is a full novel in verse, it still feels lightweight, it is easy to understand, and the language remains beautiful.

Three people, three stories, each different. Call Me Athena is a story about immigration, love, and coming-of-age. It is a story of Mary, her Greek father Gio, and French mother Jeanne. The story spans from 1915 to 1934 and describes two quite different time periods: First World War in Europe and the Great Depression in America.

I listened to the audio version and read the ebook at the same time. Which one to choose depends on the reader. In the end, I would recommend both versions, depends on what you like. But getting both versions would also be an excellent choice.

Thanks to the Andrews McMeel Publishing for the ARC and the opportunity to read this! All opinions are my own.
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This book tells the story of a family of immigrants in the USA during the 1930s. It talks about their struggles in life. When I first saw this book, I was intimidated by the number of pages, and I almost gave up on it. Yet, I'm so glad I didn't. This turned out to be such a great story to read. I lover that the author shared photos of Mary, the main character, and her family at the end. Rating: 4/5.
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This was a very different and yet mesmerising book. I’ve never read anything like this before. 

The story feels fresh and very charming, heartwarming in so many different ways. 

Call me Athena is the perfect book for you if you’re interested in read something out of the ordinary, and if you’re interested in a story with a emotional plot.
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What I enjoyed


One of my favorite things about this story was the characters. They were well crafted and well developed. The main character is Mary just wants to live her own life and make her own choices for herself, not because she is Greek, and should be a good Greek daughter like her parents want her to be. Mary was my favorite character in this story and it was so much fun reading the story from her point of view. I also really enjoyed Mary’s parents, especially the scenes in the book set in the past, because you got to see how their romance blossomed over the year from the time they met to now. They both grew as people. You can see the growth in the chapters in the past, and I loved that they came back to each other in the end. I enjoyed the minor characters in the story as well, I just wish that we could have spent more time with them to find out more of a backstory for them. I knew from early in the story that the characters would be a star in my review.


The plot is something that can make or break a book for me, as I’m sure this is the case with most readers. The plot in this book can be seen as simple because it just tells the story about a family in the 1930s Detroit, and the story starts in the past in 1915 and goes through 1918. One of my favorite things about the plot was how simple it was, because it was the story of a family, and that is what I wanted to hear. Letters are woven into the past sections of the story, and it is lovely to see how Mary’s parents, Gio and Jeanne, went from not knowing each other to finding love. Mary’s storyline is great to read as well because you see that she’s just a girl who wants to live her life on her terms and no one else’s. It’s a part of the part and the story that Mary fights for what she wants and I loved that. The headings at the top of the pages make it easy to figure out where you are in the story by having the character’s name, and the year at the top. From early on there was definitely going to be a star in my review for the plot because I really loved how the plot brought both timelines together. 


Writing is another thing that can make or break a book for me. The writing in this book was beautiful, and it matched the story perfectly. With a story this simple, the writing really needs to drive the story, and the poetic writing does. This is a story in verse, but there is no rhyming in the story, and I believe this is what makes the story easier to read. At the start, I had not read a book of this style before, and I loved this style so much.  I loved the writing and how it enhanced and didn’t take away from the story, so I knew that I would need to add a star for the writing in my review.


I always enjoy adding an enjoyment section to my views because I do very much enjoy the E-ARCs I read. This book was no different because I loved the characters and I loved the story that was going on in this novel. This book has some tense scenes, but there are also some light-hearted moments woven between the serious tones. I add a star for enjoyment to most books because I believe that those should be factored into reviews.


What could have been better



The more I read the more I notice that I really need a book to have a steady pace throughout, or I will not really enjoy the story as much as I could. With this novel, sometimes in the past that could have been paced better. There are some sections that are longer than they should be, and there are some sections that could have been longer. The longer sections take you out of the story, and I zoned out as I was reading these sections. Counter to that, the ending sections in the past could have been longer because it seemed like these were rushed in order to finish the story that Smith wanted to tell. The pace of these sections and some sections with Mary are why this book was not a five-star read for me.
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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 it a chance.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Call Me Athena, written in verse, follows the story of Mary, a daughter of Greek and French parents in the 1930s Detroit. I have never read a book like this in verse where it follows 3 different perspectives: Mary, Jeanne, and Gio. This was a deeply moving and emotional book. It’s a really interesting book, but I wish Greek mythology would’ve played a bigger role in the story. The writing is simply beautiful and lyrical and really whisks you away.
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This is one of the many ebooks (and audiobooks) that Netgalley has to offer without the need to request

  Call me Athena: Girl from Detroit is absolutely worth your time. This book written in verse is about two generations of the same family and their diverse cultural background. The protagonist, Mary, is the child of immigrants - her father being greek and her mother being french-, and that’s something that neither her, nor the narrative, let us forget; being greek, french and the child of immigrants shaped the way Mary interacted with the world and how the world interacted with her. Her parts of the narrative were always a delight to read (and listen!), as they were always filled with so much emotion: happiness, sadness, anger… Mary’s parts had them all.

  This book is also told from the perspective of Mary’s parents Gio and Jeanne. They tell us about their lives before the first world war and during the war, with Gio serving as a soldier for the Americans and Jeanne acting as a nurse in the northwest of France. Their parts, although insightful, weren’t nerly as interteining as Mary’s.

  Call me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a book written in verse and a very quick read, perfect for dragging you out of a reading slump. I would  personally recommend me audiobook, as you could feel the emotion of the world way better.

This review was also posted on Goodreads.
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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.  S 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.
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Mary and her family emigrate from Greece to Detroit in the 1930s. Living with her parents, brothers and twin sister in a tiny apartment makes Mary question why they ever came to the US. 

She longs for a better life: to fall in love and run her own business. 

Will her dreams ever come true? 

The novel is very atmospheric and I was rooting for Mary. Thanks to Colby Cedar Smith and Andrews McMeel Publishing for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars
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Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing (via NetGalley) for the ARC!

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a novel in verse that tells the story of two generations of a family trying to chase the American dream. It begins with Mary's POV, a teenager living in Detroit in 1934. Her family is trying to make ends meet in the middle of the Great Depression, and Mary is torn between honoring her immigrant parents' wishes and following her own dreams. One day Mary finds stacks of love letters in the attic of her house, and then we start to flash back to two additional POVs: Jeanne in 1917 France, and Giorgos (Gio) in 1917 Greece. These flashbacks tell the stories of how Mary's parents met and ended up in the US, and their experience going through WWI in Europe, Jeanne as a nurse and Giorgos as a soldier.

Novels in verse are always a favorite format of mine, especially when they're done well. This is one that is done extremely well, in my opinion. The format makes this 500+ page book seem much shorter, and it works well for the story. The three POVs are also distinctly formatted, with Mary's being set to the left side of the page, Gio's chapters centered, and Jeanne's set to the right of the page making it easy to distinguish the three.

The story itself is beautifully written. I love Mary's chapters because, although her parts are set in 1934, she is quintessentially still a teenager. She is struggling with her identity because she's half Greek, half French and fully American but doesn't quite know what to make of those identities. She also has a crush on an American boy--blond hair, blue eyes, last name Smith--but knows that her father expects her to marry a Greek boy. So does she do what her family expects, or does she follow her heart?

Gio and Jeanne's chapters add another layer to Mary's story. They give so much more context to the reader about why Mary's parents are they way the are, and the experiences they went through, much of which Mary knows nothing about. It really humanizes her parents and emphasizes that each person has their own story, even if you don't know anything about it. 

Ultimately, this is a (semi-biographical) story about the importance of family and the importance of being able to make your own choice about your life. This is a beautifully written, engaging debut novel and I highly recommend it, especially for fans of historical fiction.
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Thank you Netgalley, Edelweiss+ and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the is book in exchange of an honest review.

This is the first book I have ever read that was written in verse and it definitely won't be my last. Call Me Athena was such an easy book to get through and was unlike anything I have ever read. It's written in such a beautiful way that I couldn't help but get attached to the characters. 

The book is written from 3 different people's povs and that just made it more lovable. To switch between their povs every once in a while kept the story fresh, interesting, and has kept me at the edge of my seat. This is definitely an unforgettable book in my opinion.

"Call Me Athena
The girl
who should have been born
a boy."
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Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith is a beautiful novel told in verse. The story is told from three different perspectives. Each character is beautifully crafted and unique in their own way. Their individual voices shone through the verses.  I loved how Mary from Detroit in the 1930’s and Gio and Jeanne from World War I shared many parallels and ended up intertwined together in ways they never expected.

The three stories are beautifully crafted to portray a story of forbidden love, life as an immigrant, the effects of war, family dynamics, and gender expectations caused by cultural and societal pressures. 

This story had me captivated from beginning to end. I loved seeing the story unfold and the pieces of the puzzle come together. 

This was the first book I have read that is written in verse so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was lucky enough to receive both an e-book and an audio version. I found the audio book easier to listen to than reading the e-copy as I am not used to reading in verse. 

After reading this book I found out that it is based on the author’s grandmother and great grandparents which made it all the more moving. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for a copy of Call Me Athena in exchange for an honest review.
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This novel is about the author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother Mary growing up in a radiational Greek family in Detroit in the 1930s. She feels like she wants to make her parents happy to be a good Greek girl, but she believes she is also an American girl and wants to do things her way. I like how this novel is written in verse and it goes back and forth from the 1930s back to 1919 in Greece and France during the first World War in letter forms.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Call Me Athena, written in verse, follows the story of Mary, a daughter of Greek and French parents in the 1930s Detroit. I have never read a book like this in verse where it follows 3 different perspectives: Mary, Jeanne, and Gio. This was a deeply moving and emotional book. It’s a really interesting book, but I wish Greek mythology would’ve played a bigger role in the story. The writing is simply beautiful and lyrical and really whisks you away.
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Call Me Athena was such an entrancing book. I absolutely found myself completely enveloped in the story and multiple POVs and the 1930s era Detroit.

This was my first time reading a book in verse and I listened to this one on audiobook, narrated by Gail Shalan, Hope Newhouse and Ramiz Monsef. I honestly wish I had read this instead to enjoy the beauty of the story and verse more.

The other (minor) issue I kept running into in the beginning was names. Once I realized Mary was reading Jeanne and Gio’s love letters, the story really took off. This probably wouldn’t have taken as long is I had been actually looking at the names rather than relying on my memory between chapters.

That said, I absolutely LOVED the love story between Jeanne and Gio. The love letters were both heartbreaking and swoon worthy. This was made even better by the author’s note at the end of the book that noted the story was loosely based on the author, Colby Cedar Smith’s maternal grandmother.
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thank you netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review. i don’t normally like books written in verse, but i really liked this book. because of this i am giving it 4/5 stars.
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