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 with Walter--environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man--she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz--outre rocker and Walter's college best friend and rival--still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become "a very different kind of neighbor," an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street's attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom's characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
Showing 11-20 of the 24 most recent reviews
11 . Worst Read Ever!
Posted November 14, 2010 by Ann , Tucson, AZOne of the worst books I've ever read. The characters were boring. The story was boring. The writing was painful. It seemed that most of the sentences were one long run-on with comma after comma after comma. I found myself compelled to edit while I was reading. 500 pages to say what exactly? Would love to talk with Oprah about this one!! Very disappointing read.
12 . Sucked, Boring, not worthy of Oprah
Posted November 05, 2010 by Cindy , GreeleyThis book was so boring I couldn't make myself pick it up to read it. I just quit half way through.
13 . It stunk!
Posted October 31, 2010 by Denise , Northport, NYThis book may have been the worst book I ever read – and I am a reader! I found myself unable to care about any of the characters. Each and every one was despicable and shallow in his or her own way. When one character died, I was glad – one less to loathe. When another contemplated suicide, I thought to myself, "Do it. One less jerk to read about." I plowed through to the end and resent every second I forced myself to spend on it. Uggh.
14 . Boring
Posted October 27, 2010 by susandeb , cheshireI plowed on and on in this book - nothing of interet. Could care less about any of the characters. Finally just put it aside. Big waste of money. How did he get famous???
15 . Terrible book
Posted October 26, 2010 by jane , SeattleI realized abut 40pages into this book, that it was going nowhere. I never could get to caring what happened to any of the characters. I wonder if Oprah even read it. Pages and pages of solid prose get very boring! Probably the worst "bestseller" I ever read.
16 . Terrific novel
Posted October 26, 2010 by GC , San DiegoThis is an amazing book about history, personal and shared, about families, about distances, and about all the complexity around "freedom" on many, many levels. The characters are all flawed but all deeply complicated and enriched by their connections to each other and their shared histories. At the same time, their personal histories remain evocative forces in their lives, forces from which they never escape but through which they learn to grow.
This is also a novel about compromise, about coming to understand that purely held positions are not tenable in the long run. Having the freedom to stake out one's claim, as all the main characters, and even some of the minor characters, do, leads not to freedom, but to a kind of entrapment, and a limitation on our freedom. The novel asks, "what does it mean to be free if in being so you are isolated--this is true in the novel for people as well as countries--and alone." Franzen has done a masterful job of drawing characters who engage us deeply. Patty, Walter, Joey, Connie, Jonathon, and Richard are drawn vividly, wholly, and with detail. As they live out their lives, the scripts they have inherited, and make critical choices, choices contextualized in the broader social movements of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, they come to understand something about themselves, and lead us to think about our own roles.
17 . Don't wast your money or time!
Posted October 25, 2010 by LR , Lakeland, FLWhat was Oprah thinking?!! I am struggling to get through this book; it drags along and jumps around. It is also very depressing with few redeeming qualities. There are so many good reads out there that this is a waste of time.
18 . Yikes!
Posted October 24, 2010 by Patti , TitusvilleOprah, Oprah, Oprah, what in the world were you thinking? I downloaded this book immediately after her announcement that this will be one of the best books I've ever read in my life - I couldn't wait to get started. All I can say is ditto to the reviews before me. I kept thinking it's going to get better any minute now right up to the last disappointing page. Sorry Oprah.
19 . it was unrealistic
Posted October 22, 2010 by rca , chattanoogaokay book
20 . Terrible book!
Posted October 18, 2010 by Norskchick , DuvallOMG! All I kept thinking is "Oprah read this and then recommended it". This book is the worst book I have ever read. Don't waste your time it was certainly a waste of mine. I finished it only because I was waiting to find some redeeming quality, there is not one!
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
August 01, 2010
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