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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Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo. This book twists and turns, taking you on a journey across tow continents, spanning World War 1 and the Great Depression. If you know Detroit, this book is such a treat - from Belle Isle, to the Fox Theatre, to the broken windows of the Ford Factory. The setting itself is perfect for the story - coming of age, overcoming tragedies and defying expectations. It could have only happened in Detroit. The book is gorgeous, and the descriptions of the Diego Rivera Murals (and the reaction they caused amongst people and the protagonist) a particular highlight.
This book was such a pleasure to read. I am not usually a fan of novels written in verse but this was well written and wove a beautiful tale. I liked the letters written back and forth and the strength of each of the characters. I found myself unable to pull away from the story. The descriptions were on point and made me feel like I was right there experiencing it all. I would highly recommend this read to others. Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for this awesome read.
"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.
Call Me Athena is a beautifully written book in verse based loosely on the author's grandmother. The writing is exquisite and at times heartwrenching. The story follows a sixteen-year-old American-born girl, the daughter of Greek and French immigrant parents. Mary's story is told in alternating chapters with her parent's stories, which are told through memories and love letters. The poignant storytelling from three very different perspectives leaves the reader with so many feelings. I read this novel, all 576 pages of it, in two sittings. I could not put it down. The settings are richly developed and you cannot help but empathize with Mary's parents who left their lives overseas to build a life of opportunity for themselves and their family. Mary fights for her own independence against an unwanted arranged marriage and a chance to make her own mark on the world. The addition of photos of the author's family at the end is a really nice touch to this book. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Kudos to the artist who did the cover art. Amazing. It made me request this book! And when I found out it was written in verse, even better. Novels in verse have been very popular lately at my school library. What I found is that the contents of the book are just as beautiful as the cover art. The book follows three different narrators: Narrator 1 = Mary, a Greek girl in the 1930s who does not want to be what her family expects a “good Greek girl” to do (marry young, not work, not drink or smoke, etc.) She faces xenophobia, even though she was born in America. Her parents want her to marry a much older business owner, Dimitris, but she falls in love with a dashing all-American boy, Billy. He takes her to Coney Island where they fall in love over a delicious chocolate malt. He talks to her about Greek mythology and says that she reminds him of the goddess Athena, strong and powerful. Narrator 2=Giorgos (Mary’s father) 1915-1918 Central Greece, America, France. In Greece he witnesses marital disputes and domestic assault. His twin sister, Violetta, is expected to marry young. They have a close relationship. Violetta marries a good man, but when times get tough, Giorgos urges her husband to steal a sheep to feed his pregnant wife. They are caught, and Violetta’s husband is shot and killed. Giorgos feels at fault and hops on a ship heading for America. It is there that a recruiting officer tells Giorgos that if he wants to become an American citizen, he must enlist and fight for his new country. Giorgos is shipped back to Europe and is injured on the front. He then meets Jeanne, Mary’s mother. Narrator 3=Jeanne (Mary’s mother), Saint Malo France, 1915-1918. Her father is a doctor and called for the war effort. Her life up to this point has been one of affluence and comfort. She dreams of being a doctor someday and volunteers at the local hospital, aiding wounded soldiers. It is there that she meets Giorgos and falls in love. Everything about the book is beautiful--the language, the storytelling, the characters. One of the best examples I’ve seen of a novel in verse. Colby Cedar Smith, you just made this middle school librarian’s heart soar.
The emotion and pain in this... the raw feeling of acceptance and discovery. If you love poetry and also interesting ways in which mythology and heritage can shape us, read this. You will not be disappointed. I thought this would be a novel in text and not verse, but I really, really enjoyed that it was in verse. It made the emotion so much more real, I could feel the words in my chest. I do not know much about Detroit but I felt as if I lived in the city through this.
Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit is my first ARC from NetGalley of the year. Colby Cedar Smith’s debut novel is due to be released later this year in August and what an incredible book it is. Written entirely in verse, Call Me Athena is loosely based on the authors own great-grandparents who fled their individual countries to start a new life in America. With the main setting of 1930s Detroit, we also see flashbacks of their lives in both France and Greece during World War One. Mary yearns to be an independent American woman but having to battle with life as an immigrant during the Great Depression she has the constant ‘good Greek girl’ image to live up to. Having narration from three beautifully written perspectives we gain such a wide understanding of the book's message, that it is a hard balance to not disrespect your heritage but want your own freedom at the same time. This book is honestly written so beautifully and I was hooked from the first few pages. The way in which Cedar Smith writes her characters is breathtaking, you feel like you know the characters which make your reading experience even more heartfelt. My heart ached for the family at times, something that doesn’t often happen. Going into this read I thought, due to being written in verse, it would be hard to convey a very in-depth story due to there being less text than an average book. But the world being depicted is so vast and detailed that you are transported into their lives. At times I had to make myself put it down to stop myself from reading it too quickly. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who is in need of a heartwarming yet eye-opening read and I am beyond excited to read anything that Cedar Smith may release in the future. That being said Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit gets a 5⭐️ rating from me.
I am blown away by how powerfully moving I found this novel. It is told in short form verse, which makes it accessible and less daunting for reluctant readers. This also opens the door to discussions about modern poetry in the classroom. The verse forces the reader to pay close attention to the text, since there are very few complete sentences to spell out factual information. This added complexity elevates this work in literary merit, making it comparable to many texts already cemented in the educational canon. The verse is not distracting, since it seems to fit with the characters’ use of English as a second language, or multilingual awareness. It comes across as a presentation of each character’s unfiltered, emotional thoughts. The historical details in this book are entrancing. I grew up just outside of Detroit and often heard stories in the living memory of our community, but rarely any that occurred prior to World War II. Henry Ford is often glorified as the real father of the city, without any discussion of his problematic position in history. This nuanced view of local history is fascinating and heart wrenching. Many of the locations the characters mention in the book still exist today—Belle Isle’s Conservatory, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Lafayette Coney Island, and many others. The Boblo Island ferry even brought the characters into my hometown! I am so excited to plan a field trip to the Detroit Historical Museum and allow my students to view these landmarks through the eyes of Mary and her family. There are so many classroom applications for this book because it touches on so many themes that remain relevant today. Immigration, sexism, worker’s rights, poverty, and social class are just a few of the topics that the characters live with. The historical references and different geographic locations mentioned in the book provide stepping stones for research projects, analysis, and classroom discussion. I cannot wait to get this book into my students’ hands!
I really enjoyed this book. I have only read one other book written in verse and I am generally not a fan of poetry. I wanted to try something different so I gave this book a try. I am really glad I did!! It took me longer than I care to admit to get used to the writing style. I found it a little hard to follow the story at first. But that has nothing to do with the writing just my ability to read it. Once I was able to get used to the writing I was able to follow the three characters along their heartbreaking journeys. This story is based off the Colby Cedar Smith’s family. Her grandmother is such an inspiration and a go getter! Her great-grandparents were such fighters. It is no wonder that the Colby Cedar Smith decided to write a book about them! I am really glad that I decide to try this book!
Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit was a wonderful 5 Star read, written entirely in verse (a fact I missed until I began reading it), as well as some very poetic love letters. This novel is loosely based around the author, Colby Cedar Smith's grandmother Mary's story, as well as Mary's own parents, Gio and Jeanne. Mary's story shows the plight of what it means to be an immigrant in a country that does not want you, a story that still rings true for many people today. Her story is set in 1934 Detroit, during the Great Depression. Mary's parents wish for her to marry and be a 'Good Greek Girl' but Mary wants more than that, she wants to be a Modern American Woman, but at the same time she doesn't want to let go of her culture and her family. Meanwhile, in little flashes of the past, we see Mary's parents drawn closer to each other by the war (WW1) and their letters to each other. The writing in Call Me Athena was so so beautiful, and I can't even explain how great this made the book for me. Personally, a book could have a really good plot but if I dislike the writing I really cannot be interested. (That isn't to say that writing means everything. If there's no plot, what am I reading?) I've only actually read a few novels written in verse- The Iliad, Punching The Air, and this one- and in two of the cases, when getting hold of the books, I've failed to noticed that they're written in verse, and so when I've started them, I've been quite unsure, but they've always turned out to be brilliant. As this is an ARC, there isn't a lot I can say without revealing too much, but just remember this. Five stars (from someone who is quite harsh with her ratings) Written in lovely poetry. Releasing on August 17th 2021, so put that date into your calendars! Call Me Athena: Girl From Detroit will be available in both hard and electronic formats. (Review will be released later today)
Thank you for NetGalley for this e-arc! This book is very unique and is something I wouldn’t normally read. I have never read a book that was historical fiction in verse, rooted in a story about immigrant families from Greece and Northern Families. We learn about Mary, who a 16-year old girl is from Detroit in the 1930s. The central plot line is centered around Mary really fighting against arranged marriage and fighting for independence. I’m usually weary of these plot lines, but I have to commend Smith for being able to tell this dynamic tale in a way that is sensitive, moving, and very engaging. Smith tells this through three different narrators in verse. We hear about war-torn Greece, being an immigrant family during the Great Depression, what it means to be a “good Greek girl”, and familial histories. I loved the historical references, especially as a history major in college. There are many historical Detroit-specific references (and confirmed by Detroit natives!) and in general, this book seems to be written from a place of love. This novel is very long, but I became really invested in the story really early on. I think this book will especially be meaningful for children of Greek immigrants and European immigrants, those who have a personal connection to Detroit, and those who are interested in the 1920s and 1930s. I think they will have better words to describe this beautiful piece that I can at the moment.
This is a truly excellent novel in verse, detailing the lives of three people as they make the decisions that will make their adult lives. Smith revels in language and image, but is equally at home cutting to the chase and being blunt. I loved the ways in which she made every character and narrator a poet, making each one more individual and interesting and special in the process. This book will be a great book club read, and it will stay with me a long time.
Call me Athena is the quintessential American dream story but with the honesty of the struggles of being an immigrant. To become the modern American woman or to remain the modest European girl. A question so many of us have had to ask ourselves. Colby Cedar Smith is able to build his characters amid the 1930's with accuracy and passion, bringing forth a beautiful heroine who eventually finds herself.
A historical fiction book in verse with a cover that - at first glance - gave me Frida Kahlo vibes, this story takes its unique place inside the novel in verse genre and is a hugely captivating read.
This book is amazing. I love thats it is a historical and in a poetic form. I love how its based on true events.
Have you ever tried to read Italian poetry from the XIV century? I can assure you that it is not as easy as falling off a log. Or even trying to read Manzoni: pages and pages of phrases that may occupy an entire paragraph without the use of punctuation (not like The Ulysses, but it is not that far). Seeing a novel in verses was something peculiar, unexpected for me, but I wanted to challenge myself and give it a chance. Settled in the 30s in Detroit, the story follows Mary, a young girl born from immigrant parents. It goes through her life and the difficulties a big family can face during tough times. It has been fascinating exploring a period so far away from us, discovering what life used to be back then in an American city growing so fast. Overall, I really liked it and I will absolutely recommend it to my friends looking for a different reading.
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.
I received this book to read and review on Netgalley. This is my honest review with no spoilers. "Call Me Athena" is a novel in verse recording the thoughts and words of three characters: Mary, Jeanne, and Giorgo. Jeanne and Giorgo live in Europe during WWI; their stories are gripping examples of the drastic ways lives, families, and homes were changed during the war. Mary is a teenaged girl in Detroit in the 1930s in the throes of growing up. While she prepares for an arranged marriage and fights the impulses of life as a teenager, she learns hard and fast the lessons of loss and poverty. The poetry in this book is beautiful, the characters and their stories strong and inspiring, and the propulsive style keeps the reader invested from beginning to end. I highly recommend this for YA and adult readers alike. #CallMeAthena #NetGalley
Call me Athena is written in verse. It has three perspectives, Mary and her parents Gio and Jeanne. It focuses on how Gio and Jeanne met during the First World War and Mary who is struggling to become an independent woman and to break free from patriarchy. It was interesting to read but I have to say that I was more interested in the parents' stories rather than Mary's. The actual reading of the book was difficult from the beginning, had a hard time distinguishing the characters, whose perspective it was but once I got into the plot, then it was fantastic.
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.
First of all, I would like to thank NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy. What an amazing debut! Beautiful writing style, she didn't need fancy words, she just wanted to convey a powerful message about the changes that we could make if we wanted to. This story set in Detroit during the Great Depression tells us about Mary's struggle to have gender equality. At the same time, we'll know the history of her parents in Greece and France during the First World War. We'll see how Mary will prove to be an independent woman who has enough competence to fill a job as well as choose who to marry. I was devastated and shocked for discovering the reality during the war. I think Mary reflects us as women, fighting for our recognition. I really liked the Athena reference for the mean character roots and what it represents. The writer has done a wonderful job throughout its more than 500 pages, I understand it was based on a true story from the bibliography shown at the end. I highly recommend this book which has already become one of my best readings this year.
I just loved this book. The verse is accessible, often evocative, and moving. The three storylines of Mary and her parents Giorgios and Jeanne are distinctive and beautifully entwined, and their alternation was compelling rather than distracting. I cannot wait for this book to be released so that I can add it to my classroom library and think it will be popular, as a lot of my students are fans of both Ruta Sepetys' family-driven historical fiction and Elizabeth Acevedo's rich verse novels. One particularly special aspect of this book are the end notes, which allow Smith to provide more historical context for the complexities of World War I-era Europe and Depression-era Detroit without shoehorning it into the poetry.
Thank you so much Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this novel. I was completely blown away, I don't even know how to formulate thoughts on how incredible I found this book. There are three stories woven into this novel, Mary's life in Detroit, her fathers in Greece, and her mothers in France. I loved how the three stories were integrated, I found it allowed us to connect so much more to the story and the characters. It was heartbreaking at times, but also heartwarming and inspiring. I loved the topics touched upon. I think this could be a very important books for young adults (or anyone, honestly!) to pick up as there's so many layers and so much to learn from it. I adore novels written in verse, so this was right up my alley. It was such a stunning exploration of immigration, family, love, dreams, and history. I feel so connected to the characters in this book and knowing they're all based on real people makes my heart soar. I cherish this incredibly personal story and thank the author very much for allowing us readers into this world. I would recommend everyone to pick this up whenever they can. It's a quick read, but it leaves a lasting impression. I can see myself thinking about this story for years to come. Very inspiring story! Also, major props to the designer of this cover because it is so stunning! I will also definitely pick up a physical copy once this novel is released. I can't imagine it not on my bookshelves!
This was my first book by this author, It was pretty enjoyable. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating! It was a pretty Quick and easy read!
This was such a beautiful story loosely based on the author's grandmother and great grandparents. Not going to lie, I was hesitant about the triple POV but I ended up loving Jeanne and Gio's story as much as I did Mary's. More than anything else, I think this is a story about the strength of family. There's some happiness in this story, but a lot of it is gut wrenching, nevertheless the ending is hopeful. I really enjoyed the ending and it made me tear up a bit. The author has a lovely way with words and you could really feel all the emotions coming through the page, even with only just a few sentences. This book is quite long but it never really felt like it and I sped through it in just a few hours.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review! I am in love with this book but that doesn't mean it was easy to read. It was heart-breaking to see Athena experiencing so much racism and bigotry. I was literally crying throughout!
This was such a beautiful story. Reading a novel in verse can be a little intimidating, but this flowed wonderfully, and none of the story was lost. I really enjoyed the parts of the story told from Mary's parents perspectives. I'm sure many of us are guilty of forgetting our parents were young once, and possibly had very different dreams and aspirations to what we see of them. Call Me Athena was a poetic reminder that our parents, and members of our family, all have their own backstories. The romance between Mary and Billy was also very sweet, and did not detract from Mary's ambitions. Overall, this was an absolute delight, and I couldn't recommend it highly enough!
There are some books that are a pleasant surprises and this book was one of them. I'm not really a fan of poetry and surprisingly i dabble at it so to see a poetry book written as a story. This was a fast paced read for me which i thoroughly enjoyed.
The story follows three narrators: In 1930’s Detroit it follows 16 year-old Mary who is the daughter of Greek and French immigrants. In the 1910’s we see Giorgio (Mary’s father) navigate from Greece to America and then to France. Also in the 1910’s we have Jeanne (Mary’s mother) in Saint Malo, France. It’s a novel in verse, which normally isn’t my type of book. I decided to read it because I love Greek mythology and the whole 1900’s era. I ended up loving it as it was easy to read and beautifully written. I loved the cover and how Colby Smith included pictures of her family. Thank you to NetGalley for a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
My thanks to Netgalley and Andrews McKeel Publishing for this e-ARC of Call Me Athena. This is a novel written in verse, from the POV of Mary, a young immigrant girl living in Detroit in the 1930s and also from the perspectives of her Greek father and French mother, who met in a hospital during WW1. The story alternates narratives, with the formatting being the clue as to who is narrating. The story skips back to Giorgos and Jeanne’s youth and follows their story forward, through the trenches of the front line to the French towns where the wounded would arrive. This is the story of immigrants; of the hardships that brought them to America and the ones they overcame once here. Mary delineates the cultural struggle between the old world customs and traditions of her parents and her perspective as a young woman who is American born, searching for her own path. Author Colby Cedar Smith based the story on her paternal grandmother and great grandparents. It is a riveting look at Greece in the early years of the century, the fraught years of the First World War, the tumultuous times surrounding the Great Depression in Detroit. The clash of expectations such as arranged marriages, a woman’s place in the home and workplace, the yearning for independence, and the desire to embrace a culture outside ones own are all delineated and expressed here. This book will hold appeal to many but particularly those of Greek ethnicity will find this a familiar and engaging read. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a novel in verse but it worked very well here. The style, language and meter was approachable and the story interesting. Highly recommended.
free digital copy provided for free through netgalley in exchange for an honest review wow. this book. i did not expect to love this as much as i did. first of all, the only book i’ve read written in verse (i think that’s how it’s written) is clap when you land by elizabeth acevedo, which i loved. this was just so poetic and beautiful. it won’t be an instant pick up book for teenagers in my opinion, but when it is released, i hope it will be a hit. i’ll be sure to spread the word about this book where i can because everyone should read this i swear. i didn’t realise it was based off of a real story, close to the author too, so the photos included at the end made me SOB. Mary is an amazing feminist character who doesn’t want to settle for being a “good greek girl”. my thoughts are still all jumbled and my mind is screaming “just recommend the book! make everyone read it!” so... yeah. hope this convinces you to read the book i guess? lmao
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.
Call Me Athena By: Colby Cedar Smith To be published: August 16, 2021 Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I was gifted this book by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review When I saw this book on my Net Galley I was so intrigued! A novel in verse? I'm so glad I took the risk and read this! The story starts with Mary in the 1930s in Detroit. She is the child of Greek and French immigrants and trying to navigate growing up. She faces challenges of her heritage, arranged marriage, independence, and just being a teenager. We also start to get the story if her parents, through letters, intermixed with Mary's own story. It adds such a level of depth and meaning as you see the similarities and differences, while watching her parents face their own struggles during the war. Truly a work of art I would recommend to anyone looking for something new. Break outside your comfort zone and read this when it comes out!
*Thank you to Netgalley for an eARC 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. Mary’s story is woven with flashbacks to her parents lives in Greece and France as they address the issues of arranged marriages, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. I love how this story is written. Smith takes her families history and writes it into this beautiful poetry telling of it. It reveals how Mary was a strong and independent young woman who never let any man dictate her life. It’s almost as if you feel like you know Mary through these words. (I’m sorry if my wording is a little bit off, but I hope what I’m trying to get at is there)
I wasn't at all expecting this to be so good! I reminds me a lot of Elizabeth Acevedo's writing, which I love. The story is so interesting, following Mary, a girl who lives in Detroit in the time period of the 1930s. Her parents are immigrants, and along the course of this book, she grows to be no longer a girl, but a woman. It's also so good how her parent's story is in the book too, it really gives a feel of layered complexity! Also that cover is just gorgeous! Highly recommended!
As a syrian immigrant I found this book easy to relate to. Although the book isn’t contemporary I still found it easy to apply to myself. The writing was beautiful and written in a way that it was east to understand. It’s lyrical and I felt as though I could not stop while reading this book... and I didn’t because I finished it in one sitting. The struggles of the characters in this book were absolutely heartbreaking and told beautifully. I will recommend this book to anyone who is willing to listen to me talk for more than two minutes.
The writing of this book is beautiful. The poetry angle is refreshing and full of feeling. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different couples and the dynamics between them and their families and how they intertwine. I absolutely loved reading it
This is such a beautiful novel in verse that is uniquely told from the perspective of three different narrators. It's a wonderful representation of a young woman who is desperate to create her own unique American identity, while still holding a place for her heritage and the culture of her parents and ancestors. The juxtaposition of her story against the flashbacks of her parents childhoods in France and Greece creates an illustrious and complex story of family and identity that will resonate with young people who are striving to be independent while respecting and honoring the cultural ties and bonds that exist within their families.
I really enjoyed this book! I feel like the book was easy to get into and the story kept me interested the whole time. I love the plot and I enjoyed Mary’s story!
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.
I have never been a fan of books written in verse but this story may have changed that. As someone who is half-Greek like the main character, it made me happy to see references that were relatable to my life and to stories my family has told me. Smith does a great job of weaving together the three story lines, giving each character a distinct voice while also clearly drawing parallels between their experiences and dreams. The amount of emotion and imagery that Smith was able to convey in just a few lines was truly phenomenal. The author also follows the story with her inspiration, including pictures of her family, which really drove everything home. This book is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction or coming of age stories.
My daughter really enjoyed this book! She is really into history and particularly women and how they fit into and participated in history. The book was written in verse and it follows three different narratives. Sort of a refreshing change of pace. An enjoyable read.
An excellent novel in verse from multiple POVs. Was so complex that I was enthralled yet entertained at the same time! Great!
I picked this book 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."
I chose this book on NetGalley on a whim and I was not disappointed! The story is told in verse and it’s an incredible way to watch the story unfold. It’s such a great way to learn about the intertwining stories and legacies left behind. It was such a great read and I’m so excited to have had the opportunity to read it.
I received an eARC copy from Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit follows three intertwined stories, three protagonists who get closely connected. We meet Mary, a young woman living in Detroit in the 1930s, the period of the Great Depression that hit the city like a tsunami. The city's development revolved around the, at that time, narrowed manufacturing of Ford automobiles, and many workers lost their jobs; Mary struggles for her right to work and choose for herself. And we meet Gio and Jeanne, who met in the wind of World War I, a soldier and a nurse depicting a tiny love seed planted in devastated soil. The reflection of the young love that sprouted in the middle of WWI, with all the struggles, uncertainties, death, and insecurities, is clearly visible in the yearning of young Mary to be independent, to have a right to work and a right to choose a life and a husband for herself, just like Jeanne had the opportunity to go for Gio. Her story is interspersed with learning about her background, tradition and heritage, identifying with them, and finding the courage to embrace them while at the same time building a modern life in modern society, balancing between two worlds. This novel in verse is beautifully written, inviting us to dive into Mary's thoughts, doubts, insecurities, resolutions, sharing the WWI hardships and a small light in the tunnel, love that kept Jeanne and Gio going. From the first word, the novel felt heavy with feelings, heart wrenching words and exquisite writing. The historical references and the parallel drawn between two very different events that took place in two contrasting parts of the world with specific political and economic situations give a good background for deeper analysis and discussion. What caught my attention was the title and its reference to Athena. She was the warrior goddess who, with her wisdom and strength, represented the matriarchy, independence and overall power. My expectations on reading more about Greek mythology from the somewhat modern perspective came flat; I wish that that connection was more expressive and pointed out. Moreover, the comparison between Mary and Athena does not correlate. On the one hand, we have Athena, the goddess whose name, powers, strength, and deeds were well-known and respected. On the other hand, we have Mary, an American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants who struggles to find her place in the society of 1930's Detroit. Mary's voice sounds muffled; she refuses to be a "Good Greek Girl" and tries to empower herself to break the patriarchy, all the social and political restrictions. These two are diametrically opposite. Very lyrical, gorgeous cover, heartbreaking story, but at the same time, it felt very distant, lacking spirit; perhaps the fact that it is written in verse took away some of the depth, the lack of text affected conveying of the story. Nevertheless, a truly touching tale lies between these pages and verses.
This novel in verse was absolutely beautiful. The alternating storylines, the heartbreak, she hope, the coming-of-age aspect - it was all so well done! This is an immigrant story, and also the story of a child of immigrants. The story focuses on Mary, a young Greek girl growing up in Detroit. There are also alternating POVs that take place at an earlier time period, and I enjoyed learning more about these characters and their connections as the story progressed. I really felt for Jeanne by the end, and I don’t think I ever stopped rooting for Mary and the life that she wanted. More than anything, I loved that Mary held on to her dreams. And the note at the end from the author really helps to explain why this was so important. This story is one that has such a deeply personal meaning, and it shows on every single page. It’s just outstanding. This is a perfect read if you like YA, historical fiction, or novels in verse. Everyone should read this book.
My own Midwestern second-generation American heart beat right along with the poetry in this sweet, strong verse novel. This book is readable, relatable, and sure to drawn in readers with its pure storytelling magic.
In 1933, Mary is sixteen living in Detroit in a small apartment wither siblings and parents. Her father is a Greek immigrant and her mother a French immigrant. Mary was born in the United States. Her father is a shop owner struggling. He wants Mary to marry a fellow immigrant. Why? Mary wants to be a modern woman, have a job and fun with Billy. Her parents don’t approve of what she wants, they want her to be “a good Greek girl.” The novel shows life in Detroit in the 1930’s accurately. It gives the historical life of immigrants during the Great Depression. There are hunger strikes and violent riots. Throughout the story, there are flashbacks to their lives in Greece and France. The novel has three narrators of different perspectives making this an intriguing novel for me to read. The story reminded me of the importance of heritage and tradition. Living in Detroit in this time, one realizes how important freedom and equality was. The novel is written in verse which is not my favorite way to read a book, but it was definitely worth reading.
This was a deeply moving and emotional book. The narrative told in verse form enhanced this tremendously. You can't help but feel so deeply for the characters as they experienced their triumphs and tragedies. Wonderful, Wonderful reading experience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC in exchange of an honest review! All opinions are my own. At first I was afraid to try this book. I don’t like verse even in my native language, so I was sceptical about trying it in English (I even got both the digital e-book and audiobook!). Nevertheless as a history lover, I couldn’t miss this chance to read the story. The book has 2 time periods and 3 POVs. The first one is Mary, who lives in Detroit during the Great Depression. Mary is conflicted – her environment wants her to be a ‘good Greek daughter’, but she wants to be a modern American women – date whoever she wants and even help with business! The other storylines focus on Marys parents: Gio a Greek and Jeanne from France. Their story starts together with World War 1 and shows how they both grow up and meat each other. This book was a very quick read (I switched between audio and e-book) written in beautiful verse. I especially liked the fact that it was based on the authors grandmothers life. I would have liked to learn more about all the characters, but it is an amazing story! 4 stars
Colby Cedar Smith took me on a beautiful journey and I loved every second of it. Historical fiction just always hits and this book solidified why it is one of my favourite genres. A sweeping story across time and generations ? Sign me up. Also i’m having a great reading month so far so *cross toes* that it continues. Call Me Athena follows a young woman, Mary, as she struggles for independence and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in 1930s Detroit. Mary yearns for true love, to have a career of her own, to become a modern American woman much to the frustration of her parents who want her to be a ‘good greek girl’. Told in verse, this novel captures the perspectives of three narrators, Mary in 1930s USA and Gio and Jeanne’s in WW1 , and delivers a powerful message of love, grief, courage and most importantly, hope. Aahhh this book just made me feel many things and I'm still thinking about it. I was angry ,I laughed , I swooned , and probably would have cried if i had tears left. The lyrical verse perfectly carried this story and breathed life into the narratives of the characters. The story, which was loosely based on the author’s own family , tells the story of being an immigrant in America so beautifully, detailing the reality of being in the land of the free but chained and struggling at almost every turn. The yearning for a life of your own and choices of your own in a world that doesn't make room for you because of your background or your gender. Mary was a captivating character to read from , I was rooting for her right from the beginning and felt myself cheering for her at every obstacle. All of the characters in the book had depth to them and this helped make their stories so much more engaging and made their actions more understandable. I don’t know how to talk about this book other than discussing my favourite moments so I will now get onto that. This book comes out 17 August 2021 and I think everyone should pick it up if you enjoy historical fiction and stories told in verse. I cant wait to buy it so I can go back and relive all my favourite moments and poems ☺️ **Okay now for some maybe spoilery gushing** Billy and Mary were so freaking cute, i just bookmarked i think all of their moments because seeing Mary happy just made me so happy. Their first kiss, her in that green dress, when he dropped her off in the car - I JUST LOVED THEM. Seeing her parents, Jeanne and Gio’s story really gave them so much depth and allowed for them to be humans and people instead of these caricature immigrant parent characters. You really got to understand the way they were now and the things they had gone through.Reading from their perspectives and their love story was lovely and I love them so much and just wanted to protect them. im so happy and relieved that Mary got to live the life she wanted to and have the love she wanted and a career of her own, just ugghh so happy for her and mostly just pleased that the author didn't give me a devastating ending. Thank you to Netgalley and Colby Cedar smith for the eArc and the opportunity to read this lovely story. #CallMeAthena #NetGalley
Detroit. Greece. France. How do the stories of people from each of these countries intertwin? What do Ford, fishing ships and hospitals by the seas have in common? Colby Cedar Smith’s novel weaves it together in a tapestry that includes Greek mythology, World War II and Henry Ford’s combusting and re-melding of Detroit. Smith’s novel is written in verse, and initially, I wasn’t sure how I would take to it. It didn’t work as well for me in audiobook format, which is what I started with, but when I read the book, my brain was able to form a cadence for the verse. So many of Smith’s lines lifted off of the page and the imagery was rich. I enjoyed learning about Detroit during the Great Depression and how Ford both made and broke people in the city. I made mental notes to look up several of the events mentioned, as well as Diego Rivera’s exhibit that is mentioned in the book. I enjoyed reading the author’s note at the end about her inspiration for writing the book. Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In 1930s Detroit, the daughter of immigrants struggles for independence from her family and dreams of marrying the boy she loves. Beautiful poems weave the stories of three teenagers, each trying to find their way in a difficult world: Mary in 1934 and her parents in 1915. As their stories begin to intertwine, the reader sees not only the parallels in the lives of teenagers in the 1910s and 1930s (and today) but also comes to better understand the dynamics of the family--even as the family comes to better understand each other. The story has its sad moments, but what ultimately shines through is love, hope, and determination. A riveting story that will delight YA fans of novels in verse and/or historical fiction.
You may remember that Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith was one of my most anticipated reads, so I was thrilled when I received a copy from NetGalley. Loosely based on Colby Cedar Smith’s grandmother, Call Me Athena is a stunning, debut, novel about family and heritage, immigration and freedom, and love. It is written in verse (a story that is told in verse rather than in prose), which for me, added to the storyline and set it apart from anything else I had read before. Call Me Athena is told through three different perspectives: Mary, the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants, living in Detroit in the 1930s. And through flashbacks to her parents childhoods in Greece and Northern France. All three storylines connect as they address various issues, independently and together: family, immigration, independence from heritage and traditions, freedom, equality, and love. As an immigrant, I connected so deeply with Mary—her yearnings and her struggles—remembering how I too, had once wished for blonde hair, a “normal” last name, and for my family to embrace American traditions. But also, all of the growing pains and exciting first’s one goes through in those, sometimes terrifying, teenage years: your first crush, your first kiss, your first job. I had the pleasure of reading and listening to this one one, but once I started the audiobook version, I couldn’t put it down—this is coming from someone that can’t really ever finish a book on audio. The narrators were fantastic, and because the book is written in verse, it made it that much more compelling. Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit will be out in the world August 17!