Author: Jonathan Franzen
Format: Personal copy
From Goodreads: Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
What I thought: A friend bought this for my birthday over 12 months ago. I'd heard mixed things about it so I kept putting it off. In the end, I don't think I was missing much! I almost gave up reading it so many times, but then it would catch my interest again and I'd keep going. In the end, I just decided to see it through. It's the type of book that frustrates me, because I cannot pinpoint exactly why I don't like it. I know that by the end of it I didn't really like any of the characters, but I've had that before and still enjoyed the book. I understand why it's been give the Great American Novel by some, it has that feel to it, and maybe the problem I have is I'm not American and therefore don't get all the references or have the perspective needed. I'm glad I read it though.
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