Book Two in The Gift Saga: The continuation of Evanthia’s Gift…
In 1961, five little girls moved into a suburban neighborhood and became inseparable, lifelong friends. They called themselves the ‘Honey Hill Girls,’ named after the street on which they lived. As teenagers they shared one another’s ambitions and dreams, secrets and heartaches. Now, more than thirty years later, they remain devoted and loyal, supporting each other through triumphs and sorrows.
Evanthia’s Gift follows the life of Sophia Giannakos. In Waiting for Aegina the saga continues from the perspectives of Sophia and her friends as the story drifts back and forth in time, filling in the gaps as the women grow to adulthood.
Naive teenage ideals are later challenged by harsh realities, as each of their lives takes unexpected turns. Now nearing their fiftieth year, Sophia, Demi, Amy, Mindy and Donna stand together through life-altering obstacles while they try to regain the lighthearted optimism of their youth.
Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift.
Now please enjoy this wonderful and touching post by Effie on traditions, what tradition means to her and her family. I may not be Greek Orthodox but some of these traditions resonate with me as well.
Effie’s Thoughts on Tradition
Even as a very young girl I was not only proud of my Greek heritage but I also enjoyed all the traditions that went along with it. To me, everything we did was just a little different from the others around me, and that made it unique and special.
Easter seemed to be the holiday that stood out the most as it was almost always a week or more later that the “other” or American Easter. And for Greek Orthodox Christians the day didn’t simply come and go with a quick trip to church and a meal. Our lives revolved around the entire forty days of lent with dietary restrictions and frequent church services. During Holy Week, we would attend church once or twice a day as each service represented a different event in the last days of Christ’s life.
One would think a youngster would hate this. It’s not an easy week. But I loved it. On Palm Sunday the youth group would form crosses out of palms for the priest to hand out, and on Holy Thursday we would stay up late into the night adorning the structure that represented the tomb of Christ with thousands of flowers.
But as a child, a teen or even a young adult I truly didn’t appreciate what went into keeping those traditions alive. Everything was laid out before me, prepared and organized by someone else—my mother. She worked tirelessly to make each holiday perfect. She cooked and baked all the traditional Greek foods and pastries while trying to attend church, clean the house take care of three girls and often hold down a job. Did I mention that on Easter Eve our services start at eleven in the evening and go until about one–thirty in the morning? After that we break our fast with a traditional Greek meal. Yes! At two in the morning. That is another thing I love about our Greek traditions. That, and the beautiful resurrection service that takes place outside of the church.
My mother passed away in 2012 and being the oldest daughter I felt it was my duty to carry on the traditions that were so important to her. Letting go of these customs would be like losing another part of her and no one in our family was willing to do that. Mom was proud of where she came from, but she loved this country too. Preparing the foods she grew up with, keeping the rituals and listening to the music, was her way to hold onto her childhood and the beautiful memories of her youth.
Throughout The Gift Saga, holidays and traditions hold a special importance in the story. In Waiting For Aegina, the five friends come from different backgrounds, but the beauty of this is how they come together to celebrate and honor each other’s customs.
Tradition is about history, memories and family. In your own family, it may not even be related to a heritage but simply a practice your family has been doing for generations. Never let those special moments slip away. It’s the difference between taking an ordinary day and making it extraordinary.
Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.
Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.
Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.
Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
Social Media Links
Authors website: http://michelekhoury.com/
You can follow the blog tour for Waiting for Aegina organised by Love Books Group for more spotlights and reviews.