Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Middlesex- Jeffrey Eugenides

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  2002
Pages  529
ISBN:  0676975658
Genre:  Literary Fiction

Start Date:  Feb. 21, 2011
Finished Date:  Mar. 6, 2011 (14 days)

Where Found:  Chapters-Indigo
Why Read:  General interest & it was on my TBR list

Read For:  Back to the Classics Challenge (Pulitizer Prize winner/nominee) (2/8)

Summary:  A teenage hermaphrodite seeking answers about his identity traces his genetic and family history from 1920s Greece when her grandparents immigrated to Michigan from the Great Depression as his parents struggled in the dwindling economy and into the 1970s when a great change comes to his life.


First of all, I want to make a short disclaimer of sorts that the use of pronouns in this review is a sensitive issue and that any misuse of and/or offense taken by such is unintentional, and I hope that I am applying them appropriately.

Novels that seamlessly weave together several seemingly disjointed themes are amazing.  What seems impossible to interconnect becomes second nature.  In this novel, identity, immigration, sexuality, culture, coming-of-age, religion, ritual, and family are fluid themes that meld together in a continuous flow from beginning to end.

How Cal's journey from two generations prior to his birth affects his identity and self-regard, coming to fruition in his teen years, is extraordinary and unexpected.  We follow his grandparents Lefty and Desdemona Stephanides from war-torn Greece to the Depression of the U.S., his parents, Milton and Tessie through a tumultous economic time in Michigan, and to Cal, whose identity is forthcoming from page 1, remains constantly in question throughout the novel, until the 1970s when he comes to terms with a hidden truth that solidifies in his teen years.

At first, I found the book quirky and a bit slow, but once the secret of Lefty and Desdemona's relationship is made, my interest piqued, and I was taken by it from then on.  Milton & Tessie's struggles with maintaining work during the Depression provides some of the best moments in the novel and the strongest writing.  Cal's voice is dependable, sympathetic, and always searching for answers in his family history to explain his genetics from what seems to be a coincidental twist of fate but culminates into a reason for himself through a series of anecdotal family lore.

The writing can be uneven at times, as a critic pointed out, but once the characters reach Michigan, you become used to Eugenides's rhythm, a practice that we take with every book we read.  As for the subject matter at hand, I hope that it brings further education and acceptance to people like Cal who have a fascinating, multitudinous story to tell.  We can all relate to and have likely read many books in the bildungsroman genre, but you have never read one like this before.  I highly recommend that you step outside your comfort zone and give this book a try.

Rank:  (A)- Very Good, Highly Recommend


  1. Great review -

    This title is part of a challenge I'm doing this year, so I'll be reading it soon! Looking forward to it!

  2. I really want to read this one, it's been on my wishlist for ages. Can't wait to read it after reading your review!

  3. I loved this one. It was so completely different from what I was expecting. I couldn't believe how funny it was! Glad you loved it.

  4. I've been meaning to read this for years - have heard so many good things about it. Your review was great - now I want to read it more than ever!


  5. I had wondered how this book was, glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  6. Great review!! I read this book a few years ago and your review reminds me how I enjoyed this book =)

  7. This is one of my fave reads of all time. Why? Well, I didn't expect to be so swept away with it. The family dynamic really pulled me in but the sensitive topic certain had a lot to do with it too.

    It wasn't at all what I had expected either. Since it was chosen by Oprah for her book club years ago, I don't know, I guess I just expected it to be overhyped like many of her other book selections.

  8. I have had this on my to-read shelf for AGES. I really need to get around to it! Glad to see that you liked it :o)

  9. I've been curious about this book for awhile. I guess I'll have to add it to my TBR list after all.