Published by Picador on September 16th, 2002
Genres: General Fiction
Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
This was a very odd book. The beginning was ok, it talked about her/his grandparents Desdemona and Lefty, who were also brother and sister living in the old country and emigrating to America and eventually getting married.
When Callie was born who is Desdemona and Lefty’s granddaughter that it started to get a little unbelievable Callie was born with both male and female parts hence the “Middle Sex” while her outer exterior is of a female. as she grows up she doesn’t develop the way her girlfriends are, no period or breasts instead she has facial hair and a deeper voice. Finally her parent’s take her to a gender identity specialist who determines that she is both sexes.
After Callie sneaks a look at her file and learns that she is a “monster” she runs away to California where the story really becomes strange. As she hitchhikes her way to the sunshine state she takes on a new identity as a boy named Cal. In California, she becomes part of a gang which loosely reminded me a little of Oliver Twist. After being beaten and discovered for what she truly is she starts work at a freak show/strip club, which includes herself and transvestite.
Meanwhile, her parents are sick with worry, her father Milton gets a call from a mystery man claiming that he has his daughter and will release her for 25,000. When her father drops the money off at the designated location of course he doesn’t have Callie and the man turns out to be his brother-in-law. An incredibly stupid and pointless car chase begins and eventually killing Milton; it felt like the scene was put in just for the sake of having a car race or in the hopes that it might someday be a made of T.V. movie.
Of course Cal returns safe and sound and his family learns to accept him for who he is. This was such an unbelievable story that it was hard to get though, especially when you’re saying “oh come on” throughout the novel. I read this for my book club and recently ran into someone from the group and they expressed the same feelings that I have about Middlesex so at least I’m not alone.