Aliki Says, by Irini Savvides

A was the first letter in the alphabet. And Aliki was always first.
At least she remembers something, Liza decided, even if it is about Aliki. Walking to the photo on the mantelpiece, she couldn’t help but smile. The two of them, six years of age, arms around Yiayia’s ample waist. Where had that woman gone?

It is the summer holidays, but instead of spending them with her cousin and best friend Aliki on the beach, Liza is on the way to Greece. She and her mother are collecting her grandmother, Yiayia, to bring her home to Australia to live. But Yiayia has changed – she isn’t at all like Liza remembers. Worse still Yiayia doesn’t seem to remember Liza. But Yiayia does remember her terrible secret, a secret which has eaten away at her and at the rest of the family, for years. Bringing her home to Australia will force the whole family to confront the past.

Back in Australia, Liza and Aliki find it increasingly difficult to maintain their friendship. Liza is jealous that Yiayia remembers Aliki but not her. Everyone seems to like outgoing, cheeky Aliki, more than quiet Liza. And Aliki is jealous of Liza, who she thinks is keeping Yiayia to herself. It is a difficult summer for both girls as they confront the past and figure out their futures.

Aliki Says is a moving tale of family, memories and forgetting. Author Savvides brings past and present, Australia and Greece together in a beautifully woven story which holds much to ponder not just for teen readers but also for adults. Issues of family loyalty, of cross-cultural marriages, of friendship and of the challenges of aging are explored in a poignant, skilful rendering which is not heavy to read, but certainly deals with weighty issues.


Aliki Says, by Irini Savvides
Random House, 2006

A Marathon of Her Own – The Diary of Sophia Krikonis, by Irini Savvides

We are here. Finally in Australia. The ship arrived in Fremantle this morning, later than scheduled due to the bad weather. After the storms we were weary and although normally the immigration officers would board the ship first, we had had such a rough time of it that they made an exception and let us off to recover a little.

When Sophia comes to Australia from Greece to start anew life, she finds that seasickness on the voyage is the least fo her problems. Everything in Australia is different and she thinks she will never get used to it.

At school Sophia is teased and isolated by the other students and, rather than helping her, the teacher joins in, angry that Sophia has not learnt English. It seems all that Sophia has is her love of running and, with the Olympics about to start in Melbourne, the prospect of seeing her hero win the marathon. This love of running could be the thing that turns things Sophia’s way.

A Marathon of her Own is a diary format story which provides a deep insight into the migrant struggle from a child’s perspective as well as an exploration of the Australia of 1956.

Part of Scholastic’s My Story series, this is a tale which will both inform and entertain, with readers cheering Sophia on as she runs a marathon of a different sort to overcome prejudice, loneliness and dislocation.

A Marathon of Her Own: The Diary of Sophia Krikonis, by Irini Savvides
Scholastic, 2004