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Welcome to Jnel & J.'s Book Club. A group for you to enjoy the books that are chosen for you to enjoy.

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

Posted By redlilly24 on Aug 13, 2007 at 9:59PM

Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1997: Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River clamors for comparisons to Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum; her protagonist Trudi Montag--like the unforgettable Oskar Mazerath--is a dwarf living in Germany during the two World Wars. To its credit, Stones does not wilt from the comparison. Hegi's book has a distinctive, appealing flavor of its own. Stone's characters are off-center enough to hold your attention despite the inevitable dominance of the setting: There's Trudi's mother, who slowly goes insane living in an "earth nest" beneath the family house; Trudi's best friend Georg, whose parents dress him as the girl they always wanted; and, of course, Trudi herself, whose condition dooms her to long for an impossible normalcy. Futhermore, the reader's inevitable sympathy for Trudi, the dwarf, heightens the true grotesqueness of Nazi Germany. Stones from the River is a nightmare journey with an unforgettable guide.

MIDDLESEX BY JEFFREY EUGENIDES

Posted By Jnel J on Aug 6, 2007 at 4:28PM

A dazzling triumph from the best-selling author of The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex is the astonishing tale of a gene that passes down through three generations of a Greek-American family and flowers in the body of Calliope Stephanides.

"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." So begins Jeffrey Eugenides's second novel, Middlesex, the story of Calliope Stephanides, who discovers at the age of 14 that she is really a he. Cal traces the story of his transformation and the genetic condition that caused it back to his paternal grandparents, who happen also to be brother and sister, and the Greek village of Bithynios in Asia Minor.

In 1922, Desdemona Stephanides and her brother, Lefty, whose parents were killed in the recent war with the Turks, are living alone in their nearly abandoned village. Pulled together by isolation, sympathy, and, perhaps, fate, Lefty and Desdemona become husband and wife, and a recessive genetic condition begins its journey toward eventual expression in their grandchild Calliope.

Middlesex is a story about what it means to occupy the complex and unnamed middle ground between male and female, Greek and American, past and present. For Cal, caught between these identities, the journey to adulthood is particularly fraught. Jeffrey Eugenides's epic portrayal of Cal's struggle is classical in its structure and scope and contemporary in its content—a tender and honest examination of a battle that is increasingly relevant to us all.

Featured on: Oprah's Book Club