Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Book Review: Middlesex
Author: Jeffrey Eugenide
Personal Rating: 2.5/5
Awards: Pulitzer Prize
From the back cover:
Middlesex tells 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 Pointe, 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.
I’m sorry to say I was disappointed and unimpressed with this book. It just didn’t do it for me. Calliope has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. So even though she is an XY male, she looks and therefore was raised as a female. It wasn’t until she was 14 that it was discovered she was not a girl. As a biology teacher and psychology major I was very excited to read this book to watch how the bio and psych interacted with each other. Perhaps I expected too much.
The majority of the book is devoted to Calliope’s ancestors and parents. While they play a pivotal role in her situation I didn’t feel it was necessary to devote so much time to them. I found it boring. I wanted to learn about Calliope. It seemed that just when you were finally starting to get to know Calliope the book was over.
There were fantastic parts of the book. The first two paragraphs for example; they hooked me in and I was ready to go. I wish I still had the book here so I could type them out. The writing is very good, but to describe the book as thrilling??? Umm…I’m not sure where that would be.
Many people loved this book and of course it won a Pulitzer so I’m in the minority here. From other reviews I’ve read people have seemed to either loved it or hated it. I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. I thought Virgin Suicides was better.