Middlesex is the story of Calliope/Cal Stephanides, American born citizen of Greek immigrant grandparents. Cal highlights the past long before his birth...or her birth. The his and her pronouns are hard to keep straight because Calliope was born a girl, but later discovered to be a boy, then using the nickname Cal as his first name. (This is not a spoiler, it's on the book jacket and in opening of the story, I promise.) The first 200 pages of Cal's narrated ancestry read slowly for me. The ancestry is crucial to Cal's story and interesting enough, but for some reason just doesn't pick up in speed. However, once the story of Cal's grandparents' immigration and his parents' establishing a family passes, Calliope is born and the story takes off from there.
Cal narrates his childhood growing up as a girl, questioning if certain things happened because of the unknown genetic difference or just because. From the adored young daughter, to the preteen getting her lip waxed, to the teenager trying to figure out why puberty is treating her differently than other girls, Cal spells out the memories good and bad that have brought him to where he is - a man living a lonely life because he holds a secret that very few will understand and accept.
The book contains somewhat explicit scenes, but takes on a topic I've not read before in a book - hermaphroditism. Actually, I did not read any reviews, synopses, or the book cover before I began, so I was in for a surprise right away. Explicit scenes are one of those things I just don't know how some people will react, so I always give the disclaimer as a fair warning. Besides the explicit scenes, the slow 200 page opening is another thing that makes me a little hesitant to recommend Middlesex. Some people couldn't or wouldn't push through 200 pages to enjoy the last 344 pages, but overall the story was intriguing.
What's the most intriguing topic you've ever read in a book?