I really wish I did not have a reading-depression while trying to get through this book. It didn’t deserve me reading 30 pages then putting it down for a week, then picking it back up a week or two later, and repeating until it took me around two or three months to finish it. It deserved to be DEVOURED. It is not at all a reflection on this book that it took me so long to read. I think we all have reading ruts from time to time, no?
That being said, I would want to read this again with a totally clear and inspired mind. This book was written beautifully, with details and prose you’d find in a Greek Epic. It’s storyline and characters I’d imagine follow closely with a Greek tragedy (and comedy?), except it does not end on a bad/melancholic note. If anything, it’s quite hopeful at the end.
The narrator (Cal) makes it plainly known early on in the book that they had the gene for hermaphrodism due to incestuous relationships in their family (mainly, the grandparents are siblings. What in the sweet home Alabama?!?!) Once that is made fact and you nearly forgive/accept it (sorry, God), we go into the mortifyingly awkward pre-teen to teen years of our narrator (hero?). If you thought your time discovering your sexuality was rough, you will really be moaning and groaning reading what Cal went through. As awkward as some of it gets, however, it is always written with delicate care and details that make it all beautiful in its own way.
I thought this book could have gone on longer, and I felt once we were nearing the end things were getting wrapped up and thrown at you a bit quicker than the rest of the book was paced (which was s. L. o. W.). Regardless, by the end I was deeply invested in Cal’s self-love and happiness, so wherever they wanted to take me at that point felt completely fine.
I owe it to this book to sit down and read it again in the fashion of devouring it deserves. If you decide to read it, do so outside in warm weather with a bottle of wine at the ready. Like a Greek tragedy must provide, there is catharsis at the end of this epic you’ll want to simmer with for a bit before going back to your reality.