Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: Book Review

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Once again, I find myself at a loss of knowing how to begin reviewing this extraordinary book. Once again, I will do my best to string my incoherent thoughts into coherent sentences. Alas, I probably won’t get through to you in explaining the utter brilliance of this novel, but hopefully I will convince some part of you that this is a book you should read.

First thing, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex was not what I’d expected. It was better, sure. It would still have been good had the whole book just focused on Callie’s life and her development into the man she would become as I thought it would. That particular section of this book was indeed one of the most fascinating tales I’ve read in my life and likely the most memorable section of the novel. But what’s also amazing about this book is the fact that it details three generations of Callie’s family, from her grandparents, to her parents, to her/his own life. The way the stories of family history (as well as Greek and American history/culture) and Cal’s present interweave is magical to read. It gives everything such depth. Really leaves you with the feeling that you know the ins and outs of all the characters and their incredible and sometimes ordinary lives.

Eugenides is definitely a very skilled writer. There was nothing sloppy or uneven about the narrative. Everything flowed together easily and always kept me hooked. Some might think Middlesex is a little pretentious, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It’s an epic tale of family and experience and life. At times it’s hilarious and at other times quite sad. Always, always affecting.

Sure, there might have been some anecdotes/stories of Cal’s family that I didn’t find as interesting as other more significant parts, but never once was I swayed to boredom. In fact, I spent night after night staying up late reading, trying to get closer to the end, wanting to find out what exactly was going to happen to Cal and his family during his discovery of himself as a girl becoming a man. I’m now beyond well-educated about hermaphrodites and pleased that’s the case. Cal is an incredible character and I think has definitely become one of my favourites. The other characters, especially Lefty, Desdemona and The Obscure Object (Cal’s love interest), are also fantastic and wonderfully built throughout the book.

I guess there is only one thing that really bugged me about Middlesex and that is this: why on earth is Cal’s brother called Chapter Eleven??? I mean, DID I MISS SOMETHING?

But seriously. I extremely enjoyed reading this novel while eating halva (yum) and Greek yoghurt and I advice you do the same because the journey this novel takes you on is one to never be forgotten and one that will definitely stay with me for a long, long time and one that makes you hungry because Cal is always going on about Greek food. I have so many feelings now after finishing it. This is what great books can do to us. Wonderful.

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