Middlesex is about a story of a boy who was raised as a girl. No, scrap that. It was actually more. This is the story of Calliope Stephanides who, asMiddlesex is about a story of a boy who was raised as a girl. No, scrap that. It was actually more. This is the story of Calliope Stephanides who, as the first sentence of the book describes, was born twice: first as a baby girl in 1960 and then as a teenage boy in 1974.
If you were given this mystery on your first plunge into a novel, I’m sure you would be as intrigued as I was. The mystery was what motivated me to keep on reading because the first two parts were terribly long and full of details. If it were not for Jeffrey Eugenides’ style of writing, I probably would have given up on this book. Also, it is good to get to know a few things about Greeks and how it was like for immigrants during that time to adjust to the American culture.
I enjoyed the book better when it started to get fast-paced during the last two parts. It was when Cal and his family sought help from an expert—Dr. Luce. In this part, Jeffrey makes the readers understand Cal’s condition better. I loved how Dr. Luce was described and the process that Cal went through for them to identify what he really is. As a psychology graduate, I believe that Cal’s condition was handled pretty well in this book. Of course, many would claim that the description of her struggles growing up was a bit superficial and felt weird because the author is a cis man. But overall, I think Jeffrey Eugenides handled it with the utmost sensitivity his writing could offer.
I just have one comment with regard to how Dr. Luce kept his clients in the dark. He found out that Cal has an XY karyotype which means that he is biologically male. But the thing is that Cal was reared as a girl because his “vague” genitals looked more female. It was discussed that genetics is not the only factor to be considered because Cal was already a teenager when they went to Dr. Luce and environmental factors had to be considered, but I think it would be better to still present all options to Cal and his family and not give surgery and hormonal treatment as the sole option. The decision is still for Cal and his family to make.
Another interesting thing is that at some point I realized that the point of view shifted from first person to omniscient. I initially questioned how the author could have overlooked this detail and later realized that the shift to and from these two points of view started when Callie was struggling with her his “identity” which is, in a way, a manifestation of depersonalization—wherein a person feels detached from himself.
As much as I would like to discuss in detail how hermaphroditism is not scientifically possible in humans, I think this is not the proper avenue for that. Also, the term we use for people is intersex and it is different from hermaphrodite.
I think it was good that Middlesex made people aware of the existence of intersex and the struggles that these people experience. I just hope that in time we will be able to see progress and advancement in the intersex rights movement....more
Inside Out & Back Again is a novel written by Thanhha Lai which revolves around the life of a Kim Hà. It starts from when Hà and her family were sInside Out & Back Again is a novel written by Thanhha Lai which revolves around the life of a Kim Hà. It starts from when Hà and her family were still in Saigon, then moves to Alabama because Saigon is not as safe anymore.
The novel is uniquely presented in free verse and each looked as if they were entries from a journal of a young Vietnamese girl named Kim Hà. Hà’s narration starts off when her family still lived in Saigon. Traditions, rituals, and routines were greatly showcased in the point-of-view of our protagonist. The readers get to see how Hà’s family adheres to the traditions of the society they belong to, and how Hà tries to break these traditions at times.
Tanhha Lai’s work exudes reality in all of its pages. It speaks of inter-racial differences, discrimination, and adjusting to the demands of life and the standards of a society or a community. Also, it speaks of the struggles of the refugees. All throughout the novel, Hà speaks of his father who left on a navy mission and has not returned since.
It is beautifully written that I caught myself dog-earing the pages of the verses that I loved. Lai clearly described how difficult it was to adapt to a society’s norms, standards, and beliefs. Bullying and discrimination were also showed in abundance in Lai’s work. The part where Pink Boy and his friends bully Kim Hà in school and call her names is something that she has to endure, and how her family was initially treated by their neighbors.
My heart wept when I read Quiet Decision where Hà’s mother told her: “You deserve to grow up where you don’t worry about saving half a bite of sweet potato”. It must have felt really painful for her to see her child struggle.
What struck the most is Thanhha Lai’s note to her readers. She honestly said that much of what she wrote about Kim Hà was based on her own experience when her family moved from Vietnam to Alabama. This, I believe, added genuineness to the totality of this novel....more