Enter Calliope. The secret her grandparents kept have had a serious effect on her life. Born as an intersex individual, Calliope is unaware of her condition until adolescence. Her story is that of a young girl who was raised a girl and identifies herself as a girl until she finds out that puberty has just not hit her in the same way that it has manifested itself in other young girls. This understandably is coupled with an identity crisis for her and she eventually becomes Cal.
While this is a major plot point, there is quite a bit of other narrative about her family and their American journey. I almost felt that it overshadowed the plot of her being intersex, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that while it is an intricate part of the plot, the book itself is more about the generational immigrant family that moves from being very Greek to very American. It is extremely well-written; Eugenides has a gift for words. However, when our book club got together to talk about it, we were all much more interested in Calliope's story than any of her family's. Because of this, I was a little disappointed in the book. It was almost as if Cal's being intersex was incidental to the story. I had hoped that Eugenides would bring in the fact that she was intersex before he actually did in the book, but because his writing was so good, I felt it still fit.
After reading the book, I said I thought it was just ok, but I still gave it 4 out of 5 stars because of the writing. I still feel like the characters in the novel were fairly disaffected, and there were some parts that were just outlandish. I would still recommend it to people that were wanting to read a book about immigrant families from Greece or Turkey. I also think it brings up some good conversation about gender issues and intersex people and makes for a good book club choice. I will say that I read the book over about a three day period, and I feel I would have liked it better had I read it in smaller doses. Most of the people in our book club liked the book, and I think none of us were very disappointed.