The narrator and protagonist, Calliope Stephanides (later called "Cal"), an intersexed person of Greek descent, has recessive genetic trait that was passed along for generations, that causes symptoms of hermaphrodites. The bulk of the novel is devoted to telling his coming-of-age story growing up in Detroit, Michigan in the late 20th century. This story, however, is intertwined with elements of a family saga, coupled with Cal's ability to come to terms with being a male, despite being 'brought up' as a female. His family is convinced that surgery and some hormone replacement therapy is just what a young 15 year old needs to complete this little 'misunderstanding'. When Cal isn't heard, or understood, he takes off to 'find himself'.
I enjoy books that expose me to things I only dream of. This is one of those books. It has a few points in the book where I was thinking it was a bit long in describing. however, at the end it is all tied in beautifully. The end is worth the sometimes long middle.