My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings after reading this book.
This story is not just about Cal Stephenides, a hermaphrodite - a man who grew up as a girl before discovering his identity - but this book is so much more. Cal also known as Calliope when he was a girl, is the protagonist who narrates the story of how he came into being what he is today by recounting stories of his grandparents and his parents. He traces through generations of his family to explain his condition which happened through in-breeding of his ancestors that led to a genetic mutation producing an abnormal gene and 'him – the hermaphrodite'.
What was very uncomfortable for me to read in this book was the relationship between Desdemona and Lefty, siblings who fall in love and marry each other. The incestuous relationship described in this book was difficult for me to accept. Another unpleasant read in this book was the sexual tension described -what calliope felt for the obscure object was depicted nicely but the fact that they were still kids was hard to process - these 13 - 14 year old children erotic descriptions was a bit pedophilic.
All in all, the story is really beautifully written and it is difficult to put this book down. I love how through this book we can trace the history of not just a family but the world itself – from Turkish wars to Michigan race riots and how a family survives so many difficulties coming from Greece to a foreign land America and trying to fit in.
The book exposes you to a lot of issues that might be a bit sour to taste like incest, third-gender, slavery, revenge etc.
The story ends with a melancholy note and it sort of reminded me of my own childhood, my parents – their struggle and the beautiful memories of the places and relationships I have left behind.
I recommend this to everyone and those from old school to keep your mind open!!
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