by Jeffrey Eugenides
Yes, I am almost 10 years late to the party on this winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. It has been recommended to me by many friends and customers, but I just never hit that tipping point that got me to read it. I recently read an excellent review of The Marriage Plot, the author's newest book, and decided I needed to seek out this previous title.
Middlesex is the story of Cal Stephanides, a hermaphrodite man raised as a girl. The first half of the novel is about Cal's family, and depicts his grandparents' escape from Smyrna, a Greek city in now in Turkey, to America 1922. I found this part of the book fascinating. I loved the characters and their assimilation into American society. The first two generations of the family's struggle to make it in the Detroit area was well told, a great dose of history along with wonderful storytelling.
Unfortunately, I felt the second half of the book, with Cal's discovery that she is a man, fell short of the power of the first half. Other than the physical and genetic problem, Cal was not anywhere near as interesting a character to me as the rest of her family. For me, Middlesex was a fantastic read, just not quite as good as I was expecting.