Freedom: A Novel

Freedom: A Novel

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Freedom: A Novel

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Jonathan Franzen has a masterful understanding of the nature of family relationships: how they change over time, the ways in which love and hate can intermingle, the repetition of emotional themes and conflicts across generations, and the ways in which individual struggles play out in family contexts. The characters in "Freedom" have considerable emotional depth. I was repeatedly surprised at how a character I found hateful in one chapter would be sympathetic in the next, as Franzen explains the same events from different vantage points. By David J. Miklowitz "Bookfreak"

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Freedom: A Novel Getting to know the characters inside out, understanding their stories from different points of view allows us to care about them. Self-honesty of the characters encourages us to cut them some slack too, even when they and we both know it’s not going in a good direction. But most of all, it allows us to see ourselves mirrored in their lives. One of the characters in the book admits that he enjoys reading the sections about himself more than the rest of it. We all see ourselves in what we read. What happened to me in this book was to observe their lives and to say, "yep," about my own. All of us have experienced some kind of sibling rivalry, disappointments with our parents, mother or father, grandparents, misbegotten coupling with those we are meant to be with and those we aren’t meant be with after all.

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Franzen has provided it all along with a backstory and front stories of our cultural and political times. That is why it seems rather artificial to compare him to other writers or to weigh in on whether the critics are right or wrong. To me, it cracked open the realness of relationships described in ways that we witness as similar to our own. And it is not just about rich white folk either. These kinds of dynamics occur in most families around the world, I think.

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Moreover, it opened up my own willingness to own what is real about my family and my life in the same way as the Berglunds did with theirs. What I don’t understand is how Franzen got to know so much about our culture if he had his laptop port to the Internet purposefully blocked for the nine years while he was writing "Freedom." The word occurs over and over again in the book–and the various ironies with which our lives unfold within such freedom is part of the joy of reading this novel. You will laugh out loud! And also feel so bad at times. And, as they say, hopeful in the end. And, like me, perhaps you will look at yourself, your marriage and family with more understanding than beforehand. Quite a feat in my book! Freedom: A Novel By Eden

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Freedom: A Novel

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