Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Posted by Caitie F on March 2, 2011

Title: Freedom
Author: Jonathan Franzen
Hardcover: 562 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Year Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780374158460
Rating: +++

Summary (from goodreads):

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– 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?


This is the only book I have read by Franzen, but I know i want to read The Corrections. This was a different style of book for my to read, so I am going to review it in a different way.

The good

Writing – I really enjoyed the writing in this book. It felt like it was a literary style, but not overly pretentious or like it was trying to be literary.

Voice – I am a huge fan of multiple perspective stories. Give me more than one side of things and I will automatically enjoy a book a little more. This has several perspectives, by all the main characters but one, which made the story much more interesting. If it was all from Patty, i would have hated it. But by letting us see the world through Richard, Joey, and Walter’s eyes also, it showed a better picture of life and helped me understand each charachet much better.

Issues – This is a highly political book. Between conserving nature and habitats for birds, the war contracts, and the issue of over-population, it tackled a lot and did it very well. For the most part, the discussions fit into the story and didn’t feel like it was stretching to do so.

The Bad

Characters- THere was not a single character that I actually liked. I don’t know about you, but I like having a character that i cheer for. I want to see someone succeed and be happy. There just wasn’t anyone i wanted to cheer for. They were are whiners or jerks or adulterers or entitled little brats. Usually they were a combination of those lovely traits. When I have no one to get behind, the book can only be okay at best.

That isn’t to say they are not well-formed character, they are, but I enjoy having a likable character in the bunch! Maybe it is just something that isn’t in as many adult books?

Overall, I am very glad that I read it. Did you read it? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


4 Responses to “Freedom by Jonathan Franzen”

  1. […] The Song of Susannah by Stephen King 1. Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley 2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen 2. 3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis 3. 4. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous 4. Pathfinder by […]

  2. The reviews of this book are so mixed, I can’t decide if I should try it or not.

  3. I haven’t decided about this book yet. I don’t have to have a character to cheer for, necessarily, but it do find it exhausting to read a book and find everyone unpleasant or annoying. But I love books with multiple perspectives — they’re so much fun to read. I should just get on the super long library hod list for this and decide if I want to read it once it gets here.

  4. […] Song of Susannah by Stephen King 1. Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley 2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen 2. Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven 3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis 3. Where […]

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