Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

middlesexI am in awe of this book. Truly.

If you are squeamish about its subject matter (after all, the main character, Cal/Callie, is a hermaphrodite), don’t worry. That is such a small portion of the book, and by the time you get to it, you will basically be an honorary member of the Stephanides family, and you will be overcome by curiosity.

This is not the story of Cal as much as it is of her family. Starting with her grandmother, Desdemona, who raised silk worms back in Greece, and who fled her war-torn village to come to America with her brother, Lefty and settle in Detroit, Michigan. I should probably mention that this brother and sister married each other, a family secret Desdemona only confesses to Cal years later.

Because of the years covered in the book, you get a full picture of the history of the Stephanides family through the three generations leading to Cal. First, her grandparents’ story, then, her parents’ and finally, hers. Her childhood, fairly normal. Her first inklings that she was different from other girls. Her coming of age and finally discovering the differences – and her choice to live as a male.

Eugenides writes masterfully; drawing you in to this compelling family that seems ordinary on the surface but is teeming with secrets. Well deserving of the Pulitzer it won, Middlesex lived up to the hype and I’m glad it was on my list this year for the TBR Pile Challenge.

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