Freedom

Paperback | September 20, 2011

byJonathan Franzen

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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 neighbour 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—outré 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 neighbour,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In this instant #1 bestselling novel, Jonathan Franzen charts the mistakes and joys of these intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world. An epic of contemporary love and marriage, Freedom is a deeply moving portrait of our time.

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From the Publisher

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 neighbour 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...

JONATHAN FRANZEN is the author of four novels,The Twenty-Seventh City,Strong Motion,The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction, andFreedom; a collection of non-fiction,How to Be Alone; andThe Discomfort Zone, a memoir. He has been named one of theGranta20 Best Novelists Under 40 and is a frequent contributor to...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:576 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.44 inPublished:September 20, 2011Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554688841

ISBN - 13:9781554688845

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice people have secrets too Simple story about an average American family with complicate issues. Slow paced, but that's not a bad thing.
Date published: 2015-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a great book! This was a great read. The characters are so rich and complex, yet so well described that by the end of the book, you feel you know them all so intimately. In all of their triumphs and failings. And together they make up a story that feels so contemporary and relevant. I felt like their story was my story and walked away feeling like I had learned a little more about the world I love in. Even if I can't exactly tell you what that is.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Yes! I really didn’t like The Corrections, so I approached this Franzen novel warily. I ended up liking it quite a bit. It also focuses on family dysfunction, but in more interesting ways, such as telling the story of the middle-class Berglunds from different viewpoints and voices, as well as timeframes. Freedom feels more developed and mature to me, especially because it also touches on environmental and corporate issues. Disillusioned Patty and buttoned-up Walter, with their children—money-seeking Joey and rule-abiding Jessica—are interesting characters on their own, but throw some roommates and neighbours into the mix, and things get even better.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read Great, great storytelling.
Date published: 2013-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book! When I read the preview on this one, I wasn't sure if It was for me. It was hard to tell exactly what genre it was and fearing that it was "chicklit" in disguise, I was hesitant to even buy it. However, with the political undertones, I thought I might give it a try. I wasn't disappointed, moreover, the publisher's synopsis didn't do it any justice at all. Mainly, it only covered the beginning of the book, not the meat of it. Freedom is a story, written from the POV of the main character, Patty (though written in 3rd person) to her husband, Walter. It was the story of her life from her perspective. The social undertones and commentary truly are a reflection of our world and those in it who lead very different lives. The characters were not only well-drawn with their own unique voices, they were so completely different from each other that this simple fact made the story. Franzen is a talented writer without a doubt. Patty, a University basketball star with privileged and dysfunctional parents eventually hooks up with Walter, a man who has set out to save the planet (migratory birds and overpopulation are his two biggest causes), but only after being snubbed by his best friend, a quirky and often mean, musician. Their lives continue to be intertwined throughout the novel. It is a story of people with different paths in life as well as those who haven't discovered their paths - all of whom contemplate what exactly "freedom" means and whether it is beneficial for humans in society to attain this American Dream of Freedom. There are definitely political themes and conclusively, the author is trying to tell the American Republicans and Democrats that - even if they can't get along - they have to play nice and work together to get anything done. Differing goals is a predominant theme both in the lives of these characters and in the current political (post 911) world. I gave it four because a book has to completely astound me to get five - it has to display completely new concepts that blow my mind. Freedom didn't blow my mind but I didn't regret a single page, again, very well written, good characters, and the ending was satisfying. If I could have given it 4.5 I definitely would have. Whether you're looking for social commentary or just looking to enjoy a story about regular people, I recommend it.
Date published: 2012-12-31