A novel for teenagers and young readers
Shortlisted for the 2009 Marsh Award (U.K.) / 2005 PRIX DES EMBOUQUINEURS (FRANCE)
2003 IBBY GREECE best teenage book prize
1. Le grand écart, Genève: La Joie de Lire, 2003 (French)
2. Constandina y las telarañas, Salamanca: Loguez ediciones, 2005 (Spanish-Castellano)
3. Tina’s web, London: Aurora Metro Press, 2007 (English)
4. La Konstantina i les teranyines, Barcelona: Editorial Cruilla, 2009 (Catalan)
5. Kostandina: Tirana: Dituria, 2017 (Albanian)
Konstantina is nearly thirteen when her world turns upside down. From the age of five she has lived in Germany and enjoyed a charmed existence. This is about to end, ‘But didn't you notice anything?’ her grandmother asks repeatedly. She hadn’t and the decision to send her back to Greece to go to live with her grandmother comes as a complete shock. Her parents are splitting up and she will leave her school, her best friend and her comfortable home in exchange for life with an eccentric grandmother who is still living with her memories of the Second World War. Tina and Farmor, as she calls her, are sworn enemies from the start; there is a total lack of understanding on both sides. Tina, the narrator, does not intend to cooperate. Farmor gives her no concessions. Tina is trapped in a world of tangled emotions, a web of anger and confusion, hating school, grandmother, friends, home, indeed the whole Greek culture which now seems so foreign to her. Then she meets someone who understands her despair, a boy who has also come back to Greece from Germany. He offers her a small blue pill and she begins a whirlwind of lying, stealing and an increasing lack of control over her life. The story comes to an inevitable climax and Tina's father is called back to Greece: ‘But didn't you notice anything?’ he asks his mother.
This is a fast moving story of teenage angst and drugs. But it is also a story of two generations who are failing to see how alike they are. Farmor was a member of the Greek resistance, first against the Nazis, then the colonels; strong, feisty and as difficult and determined in her time as Tina is having to be in hers.
The value of the book doesn’t just rest on its subject. Alki Zei has a unique ability to observe and describe everything around her with high emotional intelligence and mastery of language.