Review: Middlesex

Middlesex Book Cover

Middlesex
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Picador
2002
544pp

The Short of It:

Middlesex is smartly written, richly layered and brilliant.

The Rest of It:

I raise one fist (male typically) and begin to beat on the walls of my eggshell until it cracks. Then, slippery as yolk, I dive headfirst into the world” (211).

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is about Cal Stephanides. Cal is a hermaphrodite and it’s through his narration that we learn about 5-alpha-reductase deficiency and how it affected his development. Cal begins his story in the present day and then takes us back to the beginning, where his grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona make a decision that will forever change his life.

I hesitate to go into too much detail as there is so much to be discovered in this book, and those discoveries should be made by you, at your own pace. What I can say, is that Middlesex blew me away. It’s a complex, meaty type of read but the best kind of read…one told with humor and a definite voice.

It’s epic in scope but remarkably readable. The themes of identity, re-birth, transformation, race relations and nature vs. nurture are balanced out with humor and characters that breathe the same air we do. These themes speak to everyone, which is probably why Middlesex won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2003.

I read this novel for my Contemporary Lit class and it was well-received by everyone. Even the non-readers in the class had something to say about this book and although I finished it weeks ago, I am still re-reading passages. It’s definitely one of my faves for 2010.

If this novel escaped your radar when it first came out, I urge you to pick it up now.

Source: Purchased for my Contemporary Lit class.

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26 thoughts on “Review: Middlesex”

  1. I think you touched on what’s great about Middlesex without giving away anything! It’s a wonderfully written story, fascinating, difficult to put down and it stays with you.

    It’s hard to describe sufficiently and well how great it is to someone who hasn’t read it. I think it’s a book that really needs to be experienced.
    ~ Amy

  2. Jenners and I read this together (me on audio) and it will most definitely be one of my favorite books this year. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

  3. This is one of my favorite books! I was so well written and completely grabbed my attention. I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit so I especially enjoyed all of the Michigan references and remember the riots even though I was a little girl at the time. Your review was spot on without giving away too much. A great book!

  4. Ti….This is one of my all time favorite books. I am so happy that you had the opportunity to enjoy it. I would have LOVED to be in on the class discussion…..just so much to talk about.

  5. For some reason I’ve been afraid of this one and for the life of me I can’t tell you exactly why. After reading your thoughts I’m truly going to try to get to this one in 2011!

    1. I was afraid of it too! I bought a copy of it years ago..and for some reason, I thought it was about Greek mythology and there is a touch of that, but that is soooo not what the book is about.

  6. Wasn’t this such a wonderful book? I loved it .. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it. And I found it so accessible and wonderful and brilliant DESPITE being a prize winner!

  7. This one was a keeper. Well, actually, I BookCrossed it, but then I bought another copy, because I want to read it again one of these days – love it. I read it pre-blog, but it was one of my Books of the Decade. I’m really glad you liked it so much!

  8. I read this years ago and it really surprised me. I didn’t think I would like it because of the subject matter and yet it totally blew me away and sucked me in. It’s one of those books that so many people have read and still comes up in conversations!

    1. It’s a whirlwind of a book, but so well done. I really liked the main character and several of the lesser characters. I feel silly for not having read it until now.

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