5 out of 5 stars
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Becoming Athena by Katherine Lore is a young-adult (YA) coming-of-age story about a girl named Scarlet Leone. When the book begins, Scarlet is in her senior year of high school. As is the case for many teenagers, high school has not been easy for her. She is very smart but gets mediocre grades. Her friends are all Mormon, but she is a lapsed Baptist who believes in and admires the beliefs of many religions. Scarlet is beautiful, but she struggles with self-confidence. And her home life is challenging; her father is an abusive, mean alcoholic.
Scarlet is passionate about Greek mythology and astronomy. She compares the people in her life to Greek gods and goddesses, including the handsome, charming boy across the street named Cy (aka Apollo). Cy asks Scarlet to help him with his astronomy homework, and she finds herself falling for him, despite her determination not to. Scarlet has big feelings about the upcoming high school dance, the ultimatum her dad gives her, and her fair-weather friends. Following Scarlet’s journey into adulthood is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
I enjoyed reading Becoming Athena. The scenes set in high school took me right back to that awkward, uncomfortable stage in my life and had me both laughing and cringing. For example, Scarlet described the cafeteria as smelling of "Polo-drenched sweat and cheese pizza" (page 1), which was a description that made me chuckle. The author didn’t shy away from describing painful scenes, and she balanced them nicely with happier ones. This helped keep the plot moving. The author also created rich, nuanced characters that were multi-dimensional. No one character was all bad or all good.
There wasn’t anything to dislike about this book. It was written in a way that felt age appropriate for YA literature, with mild profanity and a few lightly sexual situations. There was a lot of discussion of religion in the book, including Mormonism and God. The author presented religion in the book in a way that demonstrated its importance (or lack of importance) to the characters. A reader wouldn’t need to practice a specific religion to enjoy reading the book.
I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. It was a wonderfully written emotional roller coaster that felt as if it was professionally edited. The plot was original and full of twists and turns. Readers of all ages would enjoy this book, especially if they appreciate coming-of-age stories. Young women especially would enjoy reading about Scarlet as she finds herself and realizes what she wants and expects from her life and the people in it. This is a lovely story that will leave readers with tears in their eyes.
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