Jeffrey Eugenides is a marvelous writer, but overwhelming somehow. I feel like I’m so far behind, I’ll never catch up on his books. It isn’t that the body of work is so huge, it’s just that there is no excuse for me to be behind at all. I remember when Middlesex was first released. I remember thinking: That sounds interesting. I should read that. I remember when it just sounded like a good book–before it was a Pulitzer prize winner. That was about ten years ago! How can a book be on my TBR list for ten years?
So, when I heard the The Marriage Plot was coming out, I decided I’d jump in and read that instead, or maybe before I got any farther behind. That was about a year ago, right? But at least it wasn’t ten years ago.
The story is completely character-driven and utterly absorbing. It follows Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell in the year after their graduation and, through the use of many flashbacks, it fills the reader in on their lives up to and through college. Eugenides knows his subjects (and their subjects) intimately and he’s able to take the reader right back into that college-age mind-set. Experiencing so much right alongside the three protagonists helped me empathize with their problems, which run the gamut from typical teenage adjustment stuff to the heartbreaking complexity of living with mental illness.
One of these days, I still hope to read Middlesex. But for now, I can at least say I’ve read something by Jeffrey Eugenides and I’m very glad I did.