Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jeffrey Eugenides: Middelsex

I realize it's been nearly three weeks since I've posted here, and it's not that I haven't been reading but have simply been busy with other things. It seems that no matter how busy I get, reading is the one thing that I always have time for! Even if only for a few minutes before turning the lights out at night...

I finished Middelsex by Jeffrey Eugenides about two weeks ago, but did not find the time to sit down and post about it then, although I wanted to. The book is incredible, impressive and I got completely caught up in the story. Which surprised me, because when I first heard what the book was about, I had a hard time imagining being interested in it.

The story is about Callie Stephanides, a girl growing up in Detroit in the 1960's and 70's, the three generations of her Greek-American family, and her discovery as a teenager, that she is actually genetically a boy and the impact this has on her and the family.

This is a brilliant epic novel, and at the same time an intimate portrait. I loved the tale of the grandparents' immigration from Greece to America, their adjustment to life in Detroit, the portrait of Detroit itself through the years, and the way the family's life was depicted. I could totally relate to Callie's insecurities as a pre-teen girl (didn't we all feel ugly and awkward and insecure?) which for her became magnified a million times over by the discovery of her true identity.

I am including this novel in my "Book around the world" challenge for the United States, because I feel the novel, through its portrait of immigrants making their way in the new culture, assimilating but at the same time holding onto old traditions, tells us a lot about what is was like for so many millions of people who came to America. I am very interested in genealogy and how it must have been for them. The novel also gives us a view of a major American city, Detroit, and the way it changed over the years, through immigration, poverty and racial tensions.

It is a novel with many layers. And it is all so beautifully written and every character so fully alive and real! My only regret: I would love to hear the rest of the story of Cal and Julie and what happens to them in Berlin.

1 comment:

Teddy Rose said...

Excellent review Amy! I also gave this book high marks. It was so origional.