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  • Writer's pictureAshley Christiano

Beach Reads Book Review 3: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs is a celebration of the friendships and personal devotions that propel us into the life of our dreams. This light, fun, mythology-inspired tale is meant to show how friends can lift us up and keep us going when we’re not at our best, and then cheer us on in our moments of triumph. It is a story of finding our power and believing in ourselves, and the ways that being in close community with people we love can make that discovery easier.

Phoebe Castro has her life figured out. She and her two best friends, Cesca and Nola, will be going to USC together, Phoebe on a full track scholarship. She’ll graduate with a degree in sports management, so that her life will always center around the thing she loves most: running. All she needs to do is maintain a B average for her senior year and that life is hers for the taking.

Until her mom upends her plans by falling in love and uprooting their lives to Greece. Serfopoulos, which to Phoebe is a random Greek island that nobody has heard of, is not what she had in mind for her senior year. And it only gets worse when her new step-dad, Damian, reveals the origins of the island and the school he runs: The Academy is centuries old, and exclusively teaches the descendants of Greek gods. As the only nothos on campus, Phoebe will have her work cut out for her trying to fit in and catch up to a much more rigorous schedule than she’s used to back in LA. And of course sharing a home with Stella, her magical stepsister who hates her guts introduces some very unique challenges at the dinner table.

Luckily, nonconformist Nicole and artsy Troy befriend her immediately and show her the ropes. Including who to avoid. Too bad the boy at the top of that list is just who Phoebe has her eyes on…

This light-hearted, YA Contemporary Fantasy written in 2008 is fun to read, but don’t expect much depth or even much mythology from these pages. It’s more about friendship and self-empowerment, and of course Mean Girl-style high school drama and revenge.

The story is written in First Person Present, which creates a fast and informal tone throughout. The voice of the narrator, Phoebe, is VERY teen-like and young. For example, here’s a cute scene at school in the narrator’s distinct voice.

“PLEASE PUT AWAY YOUR BOOKS and take out several sheets of blank paper.” Mr. Dorcas’s voice is monotone. “We are having a pop quiz on The Republic.”
The whole class groans. Me?
I just carry out his instructions with the resignation of a beaten dog. Since the moment I thought my life couldn’t get worse, the world, this school, and everyone on this island have conspired to prove me monumentally wrong.

There are a lot of IM chats with friends old and new, which was funny to reflect on how much a part of my own teen life AIM was, and how now it no longer exists. There are no people of color in the story as far as I could tell, which also felt very 2008. And the rules of the magic and how the gods are involved and how they can compete with other schools when their school’s existence is top secret was all a bit unclear.

Oh. My. Gods. makes for a good beach (or weekend) read if you’re craving something light that has a dusting of mythology. Just don’t expect it to move beyond stereotypes and tropes. It’s not that kind of book.


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