Name: Evanthia’s Gift (The Gift Saga #1)
Author: Effie Kammenou
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Drama, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Modern Fiction, Greek Fiction, Religion, Coming-of-age Story
Setting: Greece and New York; the 1950s to the late 1990s
Opening Lines: “The air was unusually chilled for early November in NYC, but despite the dropping temperature, sweat trickled down the back of Anastasia’s neck.”
Favorite Quote: “The rest would come in time.”
Rating: 3 out of 5
Evanthia’s Gift is a one-of-a-kind story. It all starts with Anastacia Fotopoulos, in 1956, when her world turns upside down. Deceived and heartbroken, Anastacia faces indescribable challenges such as single motherhood. After finally finding herself and healed from the past, Anastacia lets herself be happy. The drama progresses on with Anastacia’s daughter, Sophia, where she is left with no choice but to be strong for herself and her family.
I have to say that the title of this book is so alluring that I wanted to know the meaning behind it. After a long time analyzing the title, I came to a conclusion that Alexandros was Evanthia’s gift to Anastacia and her family. It makes sense since Alexandros helped Anastacia in so many ways and was the person that Anastacia desperately needed in her life. After the sad marriage she had, it was extremely hard for her to trust and love somebody new. It was a very difficult task for Anastacia to stay at peace and happy with herself. Alexandros changed her life for the better. Alexandros had a horrible past, but he didn’t grow up as a bitter, hateful man but as a hard-working and smart man who had values. I might be wrong, but I think Alexandros really was Evanthia’s gift to everyone that Alexandros made contact with.
The main reason I enjoyed reading Evanthia’s Gift is because of the Greek culture and history. I loved knowing about places in Greece, Greek words, and Greek Orthodox Christianity. At first, the Greek customs and beliefs were very foreign to me, but after a few hundred pages, Greece felt like home to me. Every time a chapter ended, the following pages were Greek food recipes which I absolutely adored since all the food she stated sounded so good. It also made the story more real since every time a character cooked something Greek, Kammenou would write the recipe so the readers could also try it and get a taste of Greece. This book had a beautiful aura. The only downside was that the author barely mentioned what specific greek words meant. Every time the author wrote something in greek, I had to use context clues to determine the meaning of those words. Overall, I loved how Kammenou made Greece so familiar, memorable, and real to someone that’s only seen Greece in pictures. I could touch the white walls and smell the salt water from the crystal blue beaches that Anastacia constantly talked about.
Kammenou was amazing at writing different point of views of the primary characters. We could clearly see how different the characters are from each other, especially Anastacia and her sister. Furthermore, it was wondrous that Kammenou showed us how fast time goes by and how different every decade is from each other. The author was very descriptive and never forgot to show readers how the United States and Greece were at that time by writing about famous songs and celebrities, and even events that were happening around that time.
The only reason why I am rating this book a 3 and not a 4 or 5 is because of the romance; not the romance between Anastacia and Alex, but the romance between Sophia and Dean. It was the you’re-the-one-I-will-always-love, the I-can’t-live-without-you type of romance which I detest. It was very cliche and corny. I adored Anastacia and Alex’s relationship and I was overjoyed when they ended up together, but I felt the exact opposite for Sophia and Dean. I found their relationship unhealthy and annoying (Sorry Dean!) since Dean did not want anyone to know about their relationship but also could never let her go.
Nevertheless, every reader will adore and relate to at least one of the many characters in this story. In my opinion, my favorite characters are Alex, Demi, Nicky, and especially Anastacia. I have this feeling that Anastacia represents the author’s mom in a way because of the beautiful dedication that Kammenou left for her. Anastacia was a very strong, smart woman with a lot of grace, and that’s why I enjoyed reading about her and her close-knit family. I related to her a lot when she was in college so that’s probably another reason why she’s my favorite character overall. I think the characters (even Anastacia’s sister) and the presence of the Greek culture are what makes Evanthia’s Gift remarkable. I cannot wait to read the second book of the Gift Saga!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Effie Kammenou is a first-generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her family. When Kammenou is not writing, or posting wonderful recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.