cheryl's Reviews > Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Jul 06, 11

really liked it

I have an odd tendency to revisit other people's reviews at several points in my journey with a book: before I buy it, while I'm immersed in it, and after I'm done. I avoid spoilers and do aim to find my own opinion, but I'm just really interested in how other people react to the same text. I probably need a book club...

Anyway, Freedom reviews are HUGELY varied (and you can find plot summaries in many of them but not here). This holds true on both Amazon and Goodreads (I find the latter is a bit more of a book-serious crew). I think it may depend on what the reader likes to get out of books. I like characters. Well-developed characters with warts and all that grow and change but are also still themselves. I do NOT need to LIKE the characters...and I think that's where Franzen lost a lot of folks. These characters aren't all that likeable. I'm not looking to be friends with them or striving to be like them. But they were very real (I'm reminded of a poem line "imaginary gardens with real toads in them"...Marianne Moore hit what I want in texts on the head there).

A lot does happen in the book. I don't always need that in my reads, but there are many plot lines and events and it really spans the lifetimes of some characters. At times, I did feel like it got to be TOO much (esp the plotline of the son, Joey). The number of big events made it a bit too much of a stretch at times...I prefer my characters to develop more "normally", I'm fine for a few big shocker events to make it all interesting, but this got a bit much.

I'm confident that this hits four stars for me (not one of my more common 3.5 rounding cases). I like Franzen and I saw the same author here as in The Corrections. Both are BIG books, physically and in scope as they examine modern American lives including families and individuals. It isn't much of a beach read (if only b/c it is HEAVY in weight) but it could be a good summer read if that means you have he time to really delve into its world.

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