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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  155,593 ratings  ·  13,929 reviews
Patty 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 wit ...more
Hardcover, 562 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 2010)
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Ted I think Jonathan was a pretty interesting character. He grew up with all the things immense affluence could buy, but also understood the BS that went …moreI think Jonathan was a pretty interesting character. He grew up with all the things immense affluence could buy, but also understood the BS that went with it. He was spot on with his views on the war in Iraq. His biggest conflict was he was totally in love with Joey but didn't know to express it. (less)
Irina "The Corrections" will be the one to sweep you off your feet!…more"The Corrections" will be the one to sweep you off your feet!(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  155,593 ratings  ·  13,929 reviews

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Dec 19, 2010 rated it liked it
I read Freedom the week before Christmas. What was I thinking? Did I want a bleak, almost sullen, portrayal of America in the new century? And not a complete one, either, but limited to privileged white people? Why didn’t I just sit on the couch, get drunk, and watch Salt and Easy A? Ok, I did that, too, but my kids were off of school and apparently believe they should get to watch television as well, so I went upstairs and read away a few afternoons. Stupid Freedom. Mr. Franzen, you’re good. Mo ...more
*Update 9/23 - Jonathan Franzen was in town doing a reading & signing last night, and after listening to him talk, I’m officially backing off of theory #1 below. He does not seem like a douche bag, at all. In fact, despite all the Oprah hoopla (Which he described as a fiasco, not because of anything that he or Oprah did, but because the whole thing got blown out of proportion.) and the backlash after the early raves for Freedom, Franzen came across as remarkably down-to-earth and funny. He seems ...more
Jun 30, 2010 rated it did not like it
Here's the thing about this book: I was really expecting to enjoy it. I say that for two reasons. The first is The Corrections. Not the book itself, which is still quietly residing on my shelf, waiting for its day in the sun… Nay, I speak of the buzz. You see, I know people. And a lot of those people read things. And some of those things were their own copies of The Corrections. And the buzz was, as far as I could tell, that the people that I know liked The Corrections. In fact, their only compl ...more
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: see review
Recommended to Jessica by: my mom (she BOUGHT me a copy, though once I read it I did detect a selfish motive.)
Okay, so earlier this summer I was waiting to see The National play Prospect Park ("Of course you were, Jessica...." -- but bear with me, that's my point), and I sent a text message to the guy who'd given me the tickets, thanking him again and observing that "White People don't LIKE seeing The National play Prospect Park; White People LOVE seeing The National play Prospect Park." This was a reference, of course, to the oft-quoted blog that holds a very high place on the seemingly endless list it ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This book hoovers you into its world from the first page and before you know what's what you've missed your bus stop and you are into it. But there are problems. Yes. I will tell you about some of them. You would expect no less of me.

I was reading along with the main character Patty Berglund’s autobiographical statement “Mistakes Were Made” (p 27 – 187) and was lapping it up until soap bubbles began appearing between me and the page. The bubbles became suds – undeniable suds. I could not divest
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
After reading Wuthering Heights, I had this idea: I should make a bookshelf called "Assholes and Asshats," a little place that could serve as a warning to people who immediately disregard books containing characters they have trouble relating to and sympathizing with. You know, jerks, dickwads, the stoney cold and self-involved, the pompously mean and rich or bitterly poor and junk-addled characters loitering about within the pages of many harder-to-swallow books. Personally, I have both experie ...more
Freedom is Terrible, by Katie G.
(Abridged for your convenience in list form)

Before you think I'm mean, please note that "freedom is terrible" is kind of the point of Franzen's book: Freedom doesn't get you what you want. Uninhibited, it brings a whole slew of problems along with it and, assuming you're not a slave or living in North Korea, the fact that your life is miserable is not due to a lack of freedom.

Ironically, you can also substitute the book Freedom for the word freedom above, and i
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Take two parts Tom Wolfe, one part Charles Dickens, stir in generous portions of current events and humor, breath over it tragedy like pouring vermouth on a very dry martini, bake in a pan of realistic humanism and you have this wonderful book called Freedom.

We get to know four generations of Berglands, from the comfortable but restraining farms of Sweden to the comfortable but restraining backwoods of Minnesota. We get to learn family dynamics and are privy to relationships that work and many
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2010

To keep in style of the book this review will be just a lot of rambling.

I mean, it was mostly a soap opera. And I just don’t do soap operas. I can just about manage about 10 minutes every 5th episode, but that’s about it. And Franzen submitted me to 570 bloody pages of a soap opera which I had to digest in a few sittings.
Like in all soap operas, everything ends well and love conquers all, of course some characters might have to be killed off along the way, but it seems like a small pri
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Times I hear, “You either love him or hate him,” I often both love him and hate him. In feeling lukewarm, there’s a distinction to be made in how you got there. To find every aspect average is not the same as combining extreme likes and dislikes that tally to the same net amount. I’d rather feel strongly both ways. So here’s my highly variable assessment of Franzen and his latest.

On the “like” side of the ledger, I have to give him his due for being one helluva good writer. His sentences flow, h
Krok Zero
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fall-2010
Uh-oh. I didn't like it. Review coming up faster than you can say "jismic grunting butt-oink"...

Would you think me a nutjob if I told you that Franzen's Freedom reads less like a novel than like an extremely articulate gossip column?

Hear me out.

I admit that it can be difficult for me to appreciate the kind of undiluted realism that Franzen favors, because so much of what I value in art is tied into one form of defamiliarization or another. Simply putting a mirror up to the world can be interest
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’ll review it tomorrow. In other news, I’m done with Franzen.


Update - it isn’t tomorrow. It’s almost three weeks later, and here I am... finally reviewing this giant, heavy brick of a book.

I’ll start by telling you I really enjoyed The Corrections. It wasn’t always easy to want to pick it up and read it, but when I finally finished it I was glad I did. Freedom started out that way for me, too.

The prologue of the novel was probably my favorite part. Maybe it’s because I live in the suburbs,
Giorgia ~ Reads
I was watching Parks and Recreation for the 3rd time, cause that’s what I do when I don’t feeling like doing anything.. Anyway, I get to a certain episode where Leslie urges Ann to finish reading Freedom so that she can talk about Patty.

Usually, the references used in the show are spot on and have a deeper social commentary attached to them so I decided to start reading the book since Franzen had been on my TBR forever. I wanted to start with his other famous book first (The Corrections) but we
Adam Floridia
May 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-books
Background: I decided to give in to the hype and read this book by the new American voice of our generation, the first author to grace the cover of Time in more than a decade, Jonathan Franzen only after I heard him speak in Hartford. He seemed like a nice guy, with a kinda dry, almost bashful humor. Plus, he was friends with David Foster Wallace. So why not give Freedom a read? It seemed fairly reasonable to expect this to be “good literature.”

Explanatory Digression: The state of CT uses the CA
Grace Tjan
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Have you ever…

had a dysfunctional relationship with your parents?

had a college best friend that turned out to be toxic?

started up as an idealist but then compromised into working for the dark side?

cheated on your nice guy husband with his cool best friend?

had a teenage son who ran away from home to shack up with the neighbor’s underage daughter?

been corrupted by the military-industrial complex?

If you answer "yes" to any of the above queries, you would probably be able to recognize a part of your
Ian "Marvin" Graye

2015 REVIEW:

Free Birds Now

I dreaded reading this novel for many years. There was a lot of media focus on the bird-watching theme, and I once endured an interview with Franzen at a writers festival that seemed to address nothing else.

I have to confess, though, that I spent much of my own childhood fascinated by native birds. I collected hundreds of cards from petrol stations and assembled them in books designed for the purpose. One of my favourite books was "What Bird is That?" I wasn't so much
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Mrs. Flick has been wholeheartedly pushing this book on Liana & I. &... finally I got my paws on it, and the verdict is this: medium-well. If this were a cut of meat, it would be messy, ugly, but tasteful: there would be much blackness on the outside (Franzen is quite the oxymoron: he’s incredibly vivid in his very opaqueness: there are four members of the Berglund family and only three get to have their stories unfold: the elusive daughter is not worthy, apparently, of a narrative space) and th ...more
Tom LA
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a magnificent book and I enjoyed it a lot.

I'd like to focus a bit on the author: let's talk for a second about Ego with a capital E. Mr Franzen's Ego can only be compared to something like Mt Everest, or maybe Jupiter. Don't get me wrong, I don't see Ego as a bad thing per se. It just comes with the package in the very first years of your life, giving you a strong personality, opinions, leadership, and often some basic arrogance, entitlement, and a disproportionate sense of your own imp
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
There's was no way for me to read Freedom and not compare it to The Corrections. No chance. I fiercely loved The Corrections and was expecting to love Freedom so much less than I actually did. It was probably a little unfair to go into it with that attitude, I just assumed this was a rebound book and the reviews are so mixed. But I was pulled into the story instantly and was enthralled 99% of the time. That's pretty darn good for a 600-odd page book.

The similarities between the two books are sp
A fulsome and satisfying read. He is old-fashioned in the way he makes the reader feel like an ally of the narrator, or author himself sometimes, from an omniscient perspective, and then slipping in a more modern way into the thoughts, perceptions, and feelings of the characters. Beyond morality tales of the likes of Dickens, he has that modern balance of humor and pathos like in novels of Bellow and Updike. Tragicomedies that don’t really go over the top like Tom Wolfe does or drift into meta s ...more
Eddie Watkins
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-fiction
The only freedom Franzen’s characters have is the freedom to turn back into the various prisons of their familial lives. This is the power inherent in his work and also its limitation. There is something profound about his recognition of this predicament, but also something trite. It is as if he can not let his characters, and by extension actual people in the world, have any kind of freedom that he himself is incapable of apprehending. Franzen’s own anxieties and neuroses suffuse this novel, in ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Could not put it down. What made it so compelling for me was Franzen's acute psychological eye, his ability to get inside family dynamics and deconstruct relationships, to create tension and suspense through the ways we get along with each other. And don't.

Patty is a gifted athlete growing up in a family that doesn't value athletics. When she's raped at 17, her mother makes an effort to say the proper things but sells her out to advance her political career. Patty has the wil
Brent Legault
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shamelessly conventional, both in style (especially in style) and subject. Packed with adverbs. Multitudes of awkward passages. Lacking in musicality. Poetryless. Written as if English were a tool rather than an instrument. Super shrill -- three of the four main characters seem to speak and even think at only the highest volume. There are no conversations, only arguments. Timid of mystery and everything is explained. Chock full of contemporary zzzzzzzz trivia and contemporary zzzzzzz culture. At ...more
It's not a deal breaker for me, but if you are someone who is emotionally wedded to liking the characters in a book, or even one of the characters, you might want to steer clear of this novel. That is not to say the author doesn't get it right. His talent comes through loud and clear with the layered and nuanced Patty and Walter Berglund, kids Joey and Jessica, family friend Richard Katz and others. Shallow, vain, self-loathing, whining individuals full of personal pathos. Personal liberties ver ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Write the wrongs or do I mean right the wrongs? Sometimes I felt like a voyeur reading about such private behaviour. A close up look at families, loyalties, infidelities and freedom. The freedom to make many mistakes. These characters operate as if just when they thought they had things all sorted out holes appear in their logic. They’re trapped. They’re ambushed by their needs and stupidity. They are repeatedly looking for ways around their dead ends. There will always be problems with what the ...more
Aug 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this in slightly less than 24 hours and am currently nursing the most painful kind of book hangover. You know the old how can this be over? how can I possible follow this up? did I really sit up reading this until 4 am? sort of feeling. Freedom really is that good, good in that way that you will so absorbed while reading it that it won't even occur to you how good it was until you hate to turn the last page.

Anyway, I'll save the longer review for a few weeks.

In the meantime, enjoy it.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
It seems ironically bold yet appropriate for a contemporary novelist to explore relevant American social issues through the artistic lens of undiluted realism. Within the context of a dying book industry, one desperately trying to convince consumers that fiction is still an appealing, worthwhile commodity to invest their time and money in, it’s often better to play it safe and tug on heartstrings and connect, than to fuss around with experimentation in the interest of moving things forward. And ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Scattered observations:

*Writers probably can't ever ditch certain fundamental aspects of their style. With DFW it's the slightly manic, ever-looping association of ideas as his brain connects his current thought to stuff you would never have imagined. Franzen seems unable to dodge the unevenness trap - brilliant for long stretches, interspersed with material that is either preachy, superfluous, or both.

*Less powerful than "The Corrections" because his characters are less universal. Arguably they
It is my firm opinion that anyone who calls Freedom a masterpiece has either not read the book, or has insanely low standards of literary merit.

Being that the book is titled Freedom, one assumes that freedom is perhaps an important theme. Unfortunately, Franzen lacks a cohesive vision for whatever it is he wants to say about it. He settles for throwing in references to freedom when talking about: Patty, immediately before she is raped; songbirds; having so much leisure time on your hands that yo
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Shiela
Shelves: environment, oprah, drama, sex
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. His fourth novel, Freedom, was published in the fall of 2010.

Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri

Articles featuring this book

The celebrated scribe of The Corrections talks about his latest portrait of an American family in Freedom and argues that a book doesn't have to be...
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“Nice people don't necessarily fall in love with nice people.” 691 likes
“You may be poor, but the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to.” 245 likes
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