Why I Read It:
This is the book of the moment, the latest Great American Novel. Plus
I liked The Corrections back in the day when Franzen was dissing Oprah
Where I Obtained the Book: I picked this up at my local public library.
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 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.
I liked this book. While I saw in reviews it had some deeper meanings
about America in a post 9-11 world, this book worked for me as a
dissection of a relationship, the story of a family. I believe that any
two people who want to be together AND are committed to the
relationship can succeed. Some of those relationships just take a hell
of lot more work than others. This story delves into a relationship
where one spouse, with the best of intentions, entered into the marriage
without being committed. Patty Bergland sought to break free from
confining parents, an abused past, a mentally ill best friend, and a
frustrated life and married a nice guy who she didn't love 100 percent.
Her husband spent his life energy trying to make up that difference
until he just couldn't.
I liked is just when you think Franzen had broken down the marriage to
its component parts, he breaks it down even more. His ability to expose
the core truth of a relationship and a family is what makes him a
genius. I have seen where some people are made uncomfortable by
Franzen's writing; or they dismiss it as puerile nonsense. I think it
is because in some ways they can see the realities of their own
relationships in it. The danger of becoming complacent with the others
in our life and having them just slip away due to small negligences
before they can be saved. A great marriage requires great work, every
If you want a fantastic read and an on-target analysis of a family, then Freedom is for you.
Author Biography: Jonathan
Franzen was born in Western Springs, Illinois on August 17, 1959. He
graduated from Swarthmore College in 1981, and went on to study at the
Freie University in Berlin as a Fulbright scholar. He worked in a
seismology lab at Harvard University's Department of Earth and Planetary
Sciences after graduation. His
works include The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), Strong Motion (1992), How
to Be Alone (2002), and The Discomfort Zone (2006). The Corrections
(2001) won a National Book Award and the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial
Prize for fiction. He also won a Whiting Writers' Award in 1988 and the
American Academy's Berlin Prize in 2000. He is also a frequent
contributor to Harper's and The New Yorker.
Disclaimer for all reviews sent by the publisher, publicist or author for review.
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