Larry's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Apr 23, 2011

really liked it
Read in April, 2011

Once again Jonathan Franzen demonstrates his amazing ability to drill into the psyche of people struggling through contemporary life. The story is at times humorous, depressing, familiar, thrilling – and very real. Whether or not you can relate to specific individual characters, you can certainly relate to the emotional roller-coaster of life that he captures.

In Freedom, each of the main characters are feeling trapped in a relationship or lifestyle. In true-life fashion, they are torn – knowing on one hand that what they have currently may well be best for them, but at the same time, being pulled in new, seemingly exciting directions.

The theme reminded me of psychologist Eric Fromm’s book Escape from Freedom – if I recall correctly, noting how people yearn for freedom, but when moving beyond prescribed constraints (current social values, current relationships), also find freedom quite scary, making them susceptible to embracing rigid social structures, extreme ideologies and cults, where all problems are solved with simple answers provided by trusted supreme leaders.

Freedom doesn’t really stray into the broad political and social consequences of people trying to “escape freedom”, but it does tackle the challenge on the individual level. The three main characters flee their relationships, and another tries unsuccessfully to flee his hedonist musician lifestyle. By the end, they all end up more or less back where they began, but having tasted “freedom”, are reconciled and accepting of who they are and better prepared to deal with their relationships.
But aside from the general theme, the brilliance of Franzen is his delightful and sometimes chilling, indepth, bang-on portrayal of the psychology of life. I look forward to reading his next novel.


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

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message 1: by Siobhan (new) - added it

Siobhan Oh this has been on my shelf for months, thanks to this review I shall be reading it next :)

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