Sarah's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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Aug 24, 2010

it was amazing
Read in November, 2010

When I read The Corrections in 2002 , it took three trys to get into it. While I appreciated Franzen’s satire of yuppie culture, the characters, (the parents in particular), were just too strange to relate to. When I read Freedom I was hooked on page 2. I really loved this book.

Freedom is the story of the Berglund family, Patty, Walter and their two children, Jessica and Joey. In the tradition of the great novel, it is a family saga wrapped around historical events, but in this case the events, such as 9/11 and the Iraq war are incidental to the drama. Critics described the Berglunds as a dysfunctional family, but I thought they were pretty average The characters are multi-dimensional and there is a lot of self reflection and psychoanalysis. I found myself thinking I knew these people and could relate to their thoughts and experiences.

Franzen is not only a keen observer of human interactions but in the tradition of Dickens and Trollope a skilled satirist. He has an eye for those amusing little artifacts of the American middle class culture. Walter’s best friend is a rock star and his band is called The Traumatics. (The rock star theme runs throughout the book and there are a series of laugh-out-loud funny band names) At one point he compares someone’s questioning tone to Tony Soprano’s shrink asking “ Guilty… how?” At least every ten pages or so, I had a good chuckle.

I had such a positive response to this book (it was a 5+ for me) that I wanted to see what other critics and readers thought. I concluded that is was a book that you either loved or hated. On amazon, there were more 5 star ratings than any other, however, one star was not far behind. The comments ranged from “heartbreaking and inspiring” to “insanely overrated”. The critics were similarly spilt. The NYTimes thought it was “an indelible portrait of our time” and, The Economits raved that “Freedom has the sweep of a modern Paradise Lost”. On the other hand, the Atlantic Monthly sniped that is was “a monument to irrelevance”. I come down on the masterpiece side of this argument and think Franzen is a 21st century Trollope. The book now sits on my favorite’s shelf with A Suitable Boy and Angle of Repose.

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Reading Progress

11/06/2010 page 135
23.0% "I see a five star rating in the near future...." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Diane Jeff is reading this now and I can't wait until he finishes so I can start it. He didn't think it was quite as amusing as The Corrections, but it sounds like you found some humor in it.


message 2: by Evamorgenstern (new)

Evamorgenstern You got my attention BIG time with the last sentence. I'll put it in line to read.


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