Author: Effie Kammenou
Type of book: Greece, single parenting, marriage, second chances, childhood love, soulmates, 1956-2000s, Greek identity and culture versus American identity and culture, wealth, travel, dreams, life, death, secrets, immigration, New York
Year it was published: 2013
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,
who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.
There are, literally, a whole lot of characters that had a lot of importance in the story, but I'll focus on Ana, Alex, Dean, and Sophia, although those aren't the only ones. Ana is a young woman who has been badly betrayed by a man she at first married and is struggling with raising her daughter Sophia and trying to open herself up to vulnerability with Alex. Alex has always had a crush on Ana and he is extremely focused and determined to become the man that Ana is searching for. Dean is a son of Ana's closest friends and is Greek-American. Personally for him the struggle is his Greek identity versus American dream and when he rebels he makes very unfortunate choices. Sophia is Ana's daughter and believes herself to be Alex's biological daughter as well. She has a very soft spot for Dean despite the troubles he puts her through but she is also firm and is full of surprises. She is talented in dancing and desires to find love that she experienced with Dean when they were teens. As mentioned, there are other characters such as Dean's younger sister Demi, then their parents, Ana's family that's back in Greece, and some friends as well but it would take a whole lot to go through all of them.
True love in second chances
The story is in third place narrative in beginning from Ana's and Alex's points of view, followed by Dean's and Sophia's points of view. To find out the mystery of Evanthia and whom she might be or come from, one has to wait until almost the very end of the book. The way the book is written has a power to suck the reader in and one feels part of the story rather than apart. What I mean is that despite the fact it takes place in 1950s to 2000s in America, there is something eternal and timeless in the story where time simply marches on without alienating the readers, There is a bit discussion on WWII and the sacrifices that were made, but its only a small part and doesn't dominate the entire story. In fact the entire story is multi-generational and focuses on how the characters grow and thrive and learn from the passage of time. Oh yeah, I do wish that there were more scenes with Ana's sister because I felt that its extraneous information and in the story we only get to see her twice.
(From Pump Up Your Book)
When picking up the book, don't let its size intimidate you, because despite it being 500+ pages, its easy on the eyes and the story as well as the pacing is extremely well done. Also as well, there are Greek recipes interspersed within the pages for those who want to experience the food that the characters are consuming. The book definitely qualifies as women's fiction and there is more focus on the characters rather than the historical aspects. Reading the book really reminded me of White Girl in La Casa because I know that this story isn't something that will be forgotten easily and that sooner or later I'd want to pick it up and read it again, so yes, I really loved and enjoyed the story. There are some romantic aspects in the book that weren't exactly timely for me, but they didn't ruin reading the story for me, although I did find an annoyance with them. I guess one could say I'm not a believer in romance or true love. Aside from that, if the reader is looking to pick something up for Valentines Day or for an inspiring love story that reaffirms true love then this is a story not to be missed.
This is for Pump Up Your Book Tours
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)