Middlesex has long been on my TBR pile ever since a friend recommended it to me. Calliope Stephanides is born a baby girl in 1960 Detroit with a rouge pair of chromosomes trailing all the way back from her grandparents beginnings in Greece. Hiding undetected for several generations they turn up and turn Calliope’s teenage life upside down when not all goes to plan and Calliope finds out that while she may look like a girl her body inside tells a different story. The reader follows Calliope’s past and present to understand how she came to be and how she adjusts to this important discovery.
I found this novel highly fascinating. It starts with a compelling first line that immediately hooks the reader right in. The content and the way in which this story unfolds is unlike anything else I read and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved Calliope’s journey, particularly through the teenage years when life is complicated enough but for Cal, becomes incredibly confusing to navigate. I did find my attention wavered in the first half where we learn about Calliope’s family history and how it comes to explain the present. Don’t get me wrong, it was fascinating, entertaining and well written but I was much more entranced with Cal and her direct experiences. I understand the importance of the background but would have likely rated it a bit higher if it was just Cal’s personal story.
Eugenides makes astute and amusing observations about life and the experiences it entails. He also brings a fascinating insight into gender and sexuality that I was so drawn in to, wanting to understand the confusing growth of a young person who finds out they aren’t quite who they thought they were. Eugenides writing is superb and it left me inspired to pick up The Virgin Suicides, a book I read years ago but have mostly forgotten. I do highly recommend Middlesex, particularly if you are looking for a unique perspective and some wickedly funny observations.