Friday, July 13, 2007

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

For years now, I’ve been reading what Oprah Winfrey tells me to read. She hasn’t once steered me wrong, so there was no reason for me not to pick up her latest book club selection. Especially when I found it at my favorite used book store, The Cracked Book, for half price! (Oh, how I love this store.)

Middlesex is a story of self-discovery. It’s about accepting who you are and what you feel, and traveling down the road of life to your true identity. It’s about finding a place in your life for all of your quirks, and those of your family. Callie, our narrator, comes from a Greek family—her grandparents come to the United States from Greece in their early twenties with a huge secret that no one in their family from that point on discovers until both are dead. While Jeffrey Eugenides exposes their secret (and Callie’s) quite early on in the book, I’d rather not spoil it here. Suffice it to say that Middlesex left me reflecting how, sometimes, the completely “abnormal” can have astonishingly “normal” results.

Middlesex is one of those books that infiltrated my life. I compared the journeys of Callie, the main character, to my own life, and had dreams that I was experiencing the same genetic flaw she experiences. Middlesex makes you question your own identity. I ask myself how many people are really able to experience and find peace with the journey of self discovery. I know from experience that it’s not always easy to just be okay with who you are. It takes a long time, and a lot of self-questioning. Callie is faced with a choice about her identity, and only at that junction in her life she truly able to take a look at herself and those around her and realize her own path to happiness and peace with herself. Not to say that as soon as you realize which way this path leads that happiness is achieved immediately, but I think we often don’t take the time to stop and really assess our own happiness. We take little steps that will give us momentary pleasure, but neglect to truly look around us and find where we belong. We don’t stop and look up to find the right route, because we’re too busy making sure we don’t trip over the tiny obstacles in the way. But really, when it comes down to it, it’s easy to get back up from a fall and keep going in the right direction. It’s not as easy to get back to the right path and continue in the right direction once you’ve completely lost your way.

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