This novel showcases Eugenides mastery of imagination as he weaves together the different aspects of this family's history presenting them in an eye opening coming of age tale perfectly fitting for today's modern age. The story does a great job of melding self-conscious artifice and real-world history.
Perhaps what is most surprising about Eugenides novel is how he effortlessly establishes the credibility in his narrator in the opening statement, " I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey Michigan, in August of 1974" (Eugenides 3). Here the narrator introduces himself and his sordid history, explaining his grandparent's incestuous marriage and how they vowed to keep it a secret. The center of the story surrounds Cal and his struggles with his sexuality. He says, "I've got a male brain. But I was raised as a girl" (Eugenides). While Cal struggles with this dilemma his entire life, Eugenides fights to prove through these struggles that Cal is really no different than any other American teenager. The novel covers all of Cal's childhood and adolescent obstacles in the hope of normalizing Cal's very un-normal condition. What makes these descriptions interesting is that Cal does not provide any emotion, leaving it up to the reader to judge how Cal must have felt as a result. For instance, when Cal tells of his close encounter in the San Francisco park and how he is nearly raped, the descriptions are virtually devoid of any emotion. Cal says the men in the park tell him "Crawl back into the hole you came out of freak" (Eugenides), but the reader is left on their own to decide how Cal must have felt. The closest description to anything emotional is when Cal says, "I had seventy-five cents to my name. I wished more anything that I could call home" (Eugenides). It seems that Eugenides chose to make Cal's descriptions devoid of any true emotion because he hoped the reader would feel for Cal and understand the emotions he must have been feeling through their own. These emotionless descriptions can be seen again in Cal's pursuit of love where his limited manhood most manifests itself, because Cal is afraid of revealing his body. He says very matter of factly without expressing how this makes him feel, "And so, without permanence, I have fallen into the routine of my incomplete seductions," (Eugenides).
It is evident that the overall goal of this story is paint a picture of American life and the decisions of one particular family in history. Eugenides takes the reader through the minds of each family member, allowing them a peek inside the windows into their souls. He begins with the grandmother, Desdemona, and her escape from her Greek island home and how she first fell in love with her brother lefty. Through the eyes of Desdemona the reader can begin to understand the reasoning behind her incestuous relationship with her brother Lefty. He makes it easy for the reader to understand why the family members decide to do the things that they do, and why they have made specific