"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." From this opening line of Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides brings the reader into narrator Cal's unusual and fascinating world. I knew from the start that this was a story told from the perspective of a hermaphrodite. But I didn't realize that it would be so much more.
Middlesex is an epic novel that explores so many different, yet interconnected topics. Eugenides shows us the horrors of the Greco-Turkish War in the early 20th century and the struggles facing Greeks as they immigrated to America. He explores the history of Detroit, Michigan, in the early and mid-1900s: the impact of Ford Motor Company in the area, the racial issues, the changes in the city over the years. He brings us into the heart of children of Greek immigrants who are trying to balance their Greek ancestry with being American. And, finally, he shares Cal's personal story of growing up as a girl, learning at the age of 14 that he was really a boy, and his struggles to understand and adapt to his new life.
I loved this story. The topics may be a bit too much for some readers: incest, gender issues, sexual scenes described. But all of these more sensitive topics made complete sense in the course of the story, and never made me feel uncomfortable at all. I highly recommend this book and look forward to talking about it with my book club in September.
My Rating: 5/5
Reading group guide and discussion questions for Middlesex
This review was written based on a copy of Middlesex that I borrowed from the library.