Kat's Reviews > The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History

The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen
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's review
Nov 09, 2011

All my books nowadays come from the English section of the library in Oslo, so a smaller selection than I've ever experienced. I chose this book only for it's title. And I knew I'd heard of Franzen, but couldn't remember what.
The book travels through time while the main character, who seems to be Franzen himself,remembers his childhood, his teenage years, young adulthood, adulthood when his mother died, his divorce, his subsequent relationship and eventual immersion in bird watching as a hobby. The story was engaging, the writing was good, and I had to look up a few words, which I always appreciate, but the book also sometimes felt overly self-interested. I was a bit surpised, as I thought it was a work of fiction and his style has the fiction feel, but really it seems to be autobiographical. Franzen is introspective and anyone studying psychology appreciates a good look into someone's mind. There's something nice about hearing about awkward teenagers and how people magically grow up and "escape" into adulthood. When I hear stories spanning from adolescence to adulthood , I usually feel relief, as if getting to adulthood has finally and mysteriously rid the person of any aches, but of course on second thought, we mostly just carry these experiences with us for the rest of our lives. Reading stories like this helps me to remember that everyone has something they carry, whether it was being shunned in the school cafeteria, a violent home, too much focus on football, neglect, or bad skin. It helps me to humanize everyone and I value that.
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