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onlywords

Words of a Bibliophile

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides "Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in 'sadness', 'joy' or 'regret'. Maybe the best proof that language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. ...I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever."

I first gave this book five stars, but after reading Eugenides' two other novels, which I liked better, I felt that in comparison this was a four-star read for me. The book tells about first-, second- and third-generation Greek immigrants in the US, and while the main story is about Calliope, the third generation in the Stephanides family, each part of the book sucks me in all the same. The plot is interspersed with real historical events -- the burning of Smyrna in Asia Minor in 1922, immigration to Ellis Island in New York, World War II, the 1967 Detroit race riots -- and elements of Greek culture and customs. The author foreshadows future events by putting in telltale signs here and there of what's to come later in the story, while he is also able to create parallels between certain moments in the story with events that occurred some 20 years before. Although the ending was a little below my expectation, I still highly regard this compelling story about parenthood, adolescence, love, gender, the American dream and most of all about finding yourself.