When you live on a tiny island (Malta) , like I do, you start to notice how life is so different. Island life is more personal, everyone is sort of related to one another, a consumer mentality does not dominate that much (although this is changing over here) and in some villages people trust each other blindly , leaving keys in doors etc.
The title character of this novel goes through a similar experience. Eleven year old Astradeni lives on a small island near Rhodes (incidentally The Knights of St.John were driven out by the Turks and had to settle in Malta) and life is very simple. Due to a financial loss, her family decide to move to Athens in order to find better fortunes.
Astradeni’s culture shock is immense. She cannot get used to the materialistic society, the rituals and even the fact that she speaks a dialect makes her (and her family) an outsider. The novel is told through her point of view, thus there is a certain innocence, which is ultimately lost at the end of the book.
I related to this novel immensely, although in my case I moved from Canada to Malta, but I still had a hard time adapting to the different sort of mentalities and just like Astradeni I had to adapt myself the difficult way.
One gripe about Astradeni is that it is out of print so you’ll have to try seek it out, but do so as it is a wonderful little novel.