Eugenides, Jeffrey. 2002. Middlesex. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 9780312422158
This is a story of Calliope and how her family's history and genetics have really made her a unique individual. Her family is Greek. Her grandparents fled Greece when the Turks attacked it and burned their village. They ended up in Detroit, where another fire will change their lives. As Callie hits puberty, she realizes that she is different. She comes to terms with her differences and even exploits them at one point.
What a wonderful narrative! The way the story unfolded reminds me of a flower blooming. This is not an easy read with its 529 pages and time shifts, but it is a necessary read.
We begin with a history of the grandparents, to learn how they came to be in Detroit. The reader is surprised by these two characters. Genetics plays a huge part of the story, but it is not a scientific (non-understandable) lesson. It is a lesson of how love and science sometimes don't mix.
We follow Callie as she grows up and his puberty. This is when he life dramatically changes. We experience her awkwardness, her first crush, her first sexual encounter. She is guarded, but allows the reader to enter her world.
There are so many stories entwined in this book that as readers, we become part of the story ourselves. I took five pages of scattered notes as I read. We face the rioters with Callie's dad; we feel Callie's confusion when she hits puberty; we mourn the death of grandpa Lefty. There is so much going on in this book, and it seems so believable, that I had to remind myself that Eugenides created this and it is a work of fiction. It reads like a biography and well worth the time.