The heart of the book is a coming of age story, an individual’s struggle to understand one’s own evolving self-identity. However, it is not a tale told in a straight forward manner, instead it weaves its way through a multi-layered and multi-generation tapestry. Beginning on Mount Olympus and winding its way to Michigan, this story follows the Stephanides family from their Greek heritage to their new American home. Just as the family itself faces difficulties of assimilating into their new world, so too does the narrator Callie face her own troubles assimilating into adulthood. Callie doesn’t understand why she never feels like she fits in with all the other girls, until Callie discovers she is actually a hermaphrodite and thus begins her transformation into Cal.
Middlesex is fascinating, epic in scope, and difficult to categorize as a particular type of book. Eugenides uses rich descriptions of background settings and historical context that transports the reader exactly where he needs to be at that moment of the timeline. The slow reveal of the secret that sets Cal up for his genetic destiny is tantalizing as well. With prose that is lyrical and often mesmerizing, this book is one that invites the reader to return again and again to its pages.
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