Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I originally started reading this book because I wanted to read Jeffrey Eugenides other book “The Virgin Suicides.” Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a copy of that book ANYWHERE in London, ON, so I thought I would try this one instead.

I will admit that the beginning is very slow-going. It talks a lot about the history of the main character’s family and it does this for about 200 pages. We’re not even introduced to the actual main character for quite some time. We’re given little snippets into his world as he is now, but we have no idea who is really talking or how they got there.

Once I got past the first part, which was interesting in its’ own right as background information, I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to read it all the time and I was sad when it was finished because I felt like I was losing someone that I’d spent a lot of time with. I feel like a sequel to this book would be great. There was so much more that I could picture happening that I would love to read about.

“Middlesex” focuses on “Callie,” a Greek girl in Detroit, Michigan growing up in the 60s and 70s. She seems to lead a relatively normal life until she hits puberty, or rather until she is supposed to hit puberty. Eugenides did a  great job of making me identify with Callie. Although I was definitely an early bloomer when it came to the whole puberty thing, I felt so bad for Callie that she was a “late bloomer.” It made me really think about how I would have felt had my situation been reversed. I remember that I felt cursed that I had to start wearing a bra in the 4th grade, but I can’t imagine how I would have felt had I made it to the age of 15 and still didn’t need one. We later find that Callie isn’t really Callie. She’s actually “Cal.” She was born a genetic male, but had ambiguous genitalia. Many people would probably shy away from this topic of this book, because, let’s face it, many people are not accepting of the notion of transexualism, but Eugenides writes about it almost like it was his own autobiography. There is a great deal of information in this book and it’s obvious that the author did his research. I already knew a lot about chromosomal abnormalities resulting in ambiguous genitalia from some of my University courses, but I found that I was still learning new things.

The book focuses on Callie’s life and how she came to be Callie/Cal. We learn why she is who she is and we learn how she feels. It’s kind of hard to describe. Many authors strive to make readers identify with their characters. In some ways, I felt like I WAS Callie and in other ways, I felt like I was her best friend, privy to her most secret thoughts. I feel bad for people who have to go through the same things as her, but I feel like I understand it a little bit more. Don’t get me wrong though, I in no way, shape, or form, know what these people go through on a daily basis. I don’t pretend to understand. I enjoyed the insight into the world and I loved growing up with Callie.

I wish that Eugenides had done a little bit more with the ending. We leave Callie when she is just starting to become Cal and then we jump 20 years into the future and don’t really know that much about the in between. I’ll give the author one thing though, man does he know how to write subplots and surprises!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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One thought on “Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

  1. Pingback: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides « Bibliojunkie

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