‘I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license records my first name simply as Cal.’ So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, “Middlesex” is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
This really wasn’t what I expected but I loved it all the same, possibly more that I would have thought. I was expecting it would be about being a hermaphrodite but it was more about family- a family which was, despite some skeletons, pretty normal. Most of the time it could have been about pretty much any teenage girl and the worries she has, and I think that was written very well. In fact I found it more interesting before Cal knew his/her true nature or that she/he wasn’t ‘normal’ than after and reading about him after that point. I really thought Eugenides built up a great sense of character and of family and I really felt I knew the characters, especially Cal and Desdemona, plus I really liked them. However (maybe because of the autobiographical style) I felt it ended quite abruptly- I suppose that makes it more realistic because Cal’s story wouldn’t end until he/she was dead in the very least.