I received a copy of Chasing Athens – Marissa Tejada in exchange for an honest review.
Ava is a woman that I think most readers would recognise; she’s at an age where she’s supposed to have everything figured out – but she really doesn’t. Freshly heartbroken, unemployed, and in a foreign country, Ava has two choices. She can return to her small hometown, full of the easy and familiar, or she can take a risk and stay in Athens, learning the language and enjoying her newfound friendships.
Tejada wrote characters that were instantly loveable. Ava’s new Greek friends were so caring, and their individual quirks were instantly recognisable as ‘Greek’. Ava herself is easy to feel sympathetic towards, but she’s not pitiable, so she never gets annoying. The experiences she has in Athens are recognisable too; the handsome rebound stranger who disappears after one night, the adorably sweet but too young boy who won’t stop calling… and then the romantic older man who sweeps you off your feet (after rescuing you in a skinny dipping incident… oh wait, thankfully that’s not so recognisable!).
I was in Athens two years ago, and I thought that Tejada captured it perfectly – the wild nightlife, the protests on the streets at night, the delicious food and good company… It’s an amazing place, so I could easily understand why Ava was torn about whether to stay or go. I liked that Tejada didn’t shy away from discussing the political situation in Greece, and how it effects the people. I feel like many readers probably aren’t aware of the reality of the situation. While I was there, there were protests every Friday night, and I’ll admit that my first experience of them was pretty nerve-wracking; Uniformed men with riot shields blocked off all of the local streets, and I couldn’t get back to my hostel. Men with firecrackers crowded the streets. I quickly learned to either stay inside, or stay close to home. When in doubt, McDonald’s always proved a safe hiding spot! I spent a long friday night in one, overlooking Syntagma Square and the protesters, eating donuts until it was safe to leave. I have also found myself in an Athenian Police Station on one occasion, and can tell you that Ava’s experience sounds just about right! Including these details in the story, that could easily have been left out, really added a depth to the novel that chick lit can often overlook.
I thought that this book felt very real. The writing and plot weren’t forced or unbelievable. Tejada’s own experience living in Athens clearly helped bring the city to life in her novel. I’d definitely recommend it to those who are feeling a little wanderlust, or want to travel vicariously around Athens. You can find it on Amazon for $5, which is another pretty good reason to check it out!!