Book Review

Book Review – Evanthia’s Gift (The Gift Saga Book 1) by Effie Kammenou

Sophia Giannakos will settle for nothing less than the rare love her parents share. At a tender and impressionable age, she has found her soul mate in Dean, the boy she has known her whole life — until secrets and deceptions pull them apart. No stranger to heartache, Anastacia, Sophia’s mother, attempts to comfort her, without revealing ugly family truths that could haunt her daughter’s future.
In the year 1956, Anastacia, a former NYU student, finds herself in the challenging role of a single parent. Left with emotional wounds from a bad marriage, she is reluctant to trust and resists her growing feelings for Alexandros, 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 their daughter attempts to negotiate between two cultures. Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, have shared a special connection since childhood. Although their desire for one another is undeniable, Dean resists her, rebelling against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage. When he can no longer fight his feelings, Dean asks Sophia to conceal their love. She hesitantly complies, until it becomes too much for her. Like her mother, Sophia loves with every fiber of her soul, leaving her shattered when Dean pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, leaving her no choice but to find a life different than the one she’d hoped for.
Evanthia’s Gift is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and across two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails … always perseveres. —Corinthians 13:4–8

I have no words for how this book has touched my life! Simply put, I believe it is perhaps the most beautiful story I have ever read!
The writing itself is, for lack of a better word, graceful. Effie wove a spell around me, and held me captive as I read.
The story, you ask? Incredible! I was transported to Greece, and felt as if I were there. The characters were so real. I couldn’t choose a favorite, if I wanted to, but if forced, I would say, Ana, full of grace, wisdom, and an all-encompassing love for her family, she reached out and wound herself into the threads of my heart.
Having just lost my own step-mother to a long illness, I knew that this was going to be a difficult read, and I was right. In many ways, I was left raw from the grief; however, it brought me back around to the lesson that was most important – “Live your life and love with everything within you” (Ana to Sophia). There were many “ugly cries” as I read this book, but there was also incredible joy.
There is so much more that I could write about this book, but I would prefer to keep it simple. Read it! You will be thankful you did!

Effie, thank you for blessing me and giving me the gift of this story. Words are not enough to express my gratitude. I needed an outlet for my grief, and I was able to find hope in your story! Your mother must have been an incredible woman. I am thankful that you shared her with us in Ana’s story.
Much love, Kim

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