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
Every Day is David Levithan’s latest novel. The narration was in the point-of-view of the main character, A, who lives every day of his life differentEvery Day is David Levithan’s latest novel. The narration was in the point-of-view of the main character, A, who lives every day of his life differently from how it was yesterday and the other day and the day before that. A has inhabited different bodies since Day 1, and the body can either be a male or a female, but the thing is that A can only inhabit a body once and that person should be of the same age as he currently is.
I personally call this book as the YA version of The Time Traveler’s Wife, because it poked the right places and gave similar frissons as to when I was reading Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. A definitely does not have Henry’s genetic clock illness, but their experiences are almost the same. The only good thing for Henry is that he can still go back to the present. A, on the other hand, cannot do so. As I have mentioned earlier, once A inhabits a body, he cannot return to the same body again.
The story picks up when A is sixteen years old and follows the typical routine of his not-so-ordinary life until he comes across Rhiannon. From the moment A met Rhiannon, he knew that there was something in her that made him want to see her every day. That’s when he grabbed every chance he can in order for the two of them to see each other.
Aside from A and Rhiannon’s story, there were other stories that were woven in this great read. Nathan finding A’s email opened on his browser, another person who is like A but can stay in the same body for as long as he wants, and all the people that A inhabited, most specially Alexander Lin.
As I go from one body to another with A, I get to see life as to how it is viewed by different people and I find myself sympathizing with A. I cannot help but feel bad about what he is going through, he goes on from one body to another but he takes the knowledge with him.
David Levithan presents a lot of recurring themes in this book, such as individual differences, perspectives, and religion. The novel offered great insights, but there were times where it felt like it was not A anymore; rather, it was already the author talking. I admit that the tone sounded a little preachy, but it does not destroy the beauty of this novel, and I commend David Levithan for coming up with such a wonderful story.
There are a great number of books that are being published today, most of them decorated with the words From the Bestselling Author of… or New York Times Best-seller, but only a handful can leave a mark, an imprint, a scar in your heart, in your being that you will bring with you everywhere you go. Every Day by David Levithan is one of those books. It tugs at your heartstrings, it leaves you with a bittersweet feeling that you get the chance to meet A and know that you cannot do anything to make his situation any better. All you can do is sympathize and it gives you some sense of guilt in the end that you know his condition but cannot do anything about it....more
The Little Prince is about a pilot’s interaction with a little prince when his plane crashed in the Sahara Desert. It was a light read but there wereThe Little Prince is about a pilot’s interaction with a little prince when his plane crashed in the Sahara Desert. It was a light read but there were a lot of insights that a reader can get from it.
The book gave much emphasis on the things that we do not normally perceive with our eyes, things that are visible only to our hearts and minds. The Little Prince revolved on a few themes, like: narrow-mindedness and relationships. Narrow-mindedness was depicted through the grown-ups. Relationships, on the other hand, were shown via the different interpersonal relations found in the book. The prince’s relationship with the rose is an example of which.
Also, there were a lot of symbolisms in this book. The rose and her being vain and naïve. The fox and taming. The grown-ups and their narrow-mindedness. The stars, the desert, and the trains.
Overall, it is a great read. I regret having abandoned the book a few years ago. Well, I was reading it on the computer, so I guess that contributed to why I stopped reading it....more