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"Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen is more like a conversational piece than a stand alone read. In order to fully understand what is going on, this book needs to be read in a group setting. It's too hard to get through this book without discussing with others about their opinions. After talking to my friend, and listening to her observation, I started piecing the different characters and saw how the family was starting to form as what they are now. Very much like a TV reality show, the Berglunds are a dysfunctional bunch.
Each characters have their own side project going on with no real central plot to steer the reader. It is just a whole a lot of nothing, much like real life. At the end, I started to enjoy "Freedom" because most of our lives are pretty much the same as this book. There are only a few high points in our lives and the rest is dull and routine. If it wasn't for my friend's perspective, I would probably not had liked this one, but this book was meant for a book club to decipher.
I was not that crazy about this story line, characters or length of this novel, yet I could not stop listening. Franzen writes beautifully. Every word artfully selected in a succinct non-flowery manner that I loved. These characters could describe any dysfunctional Millennial American family, and I do believe this will become a classic cultural period reference in years to come. Franzen captures the era's budding technology, 9/11, entitled youth and dysfunctional familial traits that capture the essence of many current day relationships we all know . For me, the political and nature conservancy issues were a bit overdone. I found myself hoping for more drama in the story line, but suppose the lack thereof was the point. Love this writer!
The characters and their choices, the narrator's voice
I later heard this author speak and that confirmed that I would not be interested in any more of his work.
this has been the longest six hours of my life, this is book is very drawn out, the characters are untouchable their issues, well okay. But all the junk makes this a long book going everywhere but nowhere, for me. Man Oprah must have had a long boring summer when she read this one.
The author was adept at things like character development, keeping the story neatly tied together even with going back and forth in time. But, essentially not very inspired writing. I am looking for a book to demonstrate the beauty of the English language. But when you use words like "stuff" and "realness", it's not happening. He wasted opportunities at pivotal points in the plot. Could hae been a great literary moment, but just kind of plowed through them.
I'm going back to classics.....
I have done my best to slog through this book. Life is too short--I give up. The story moves very slowly, most of the characters are unlikeable and uninteresting. And the narrators attempt to speak in women's voices is profoundly annoying. Just a bad choice for this listener.
The author is certainly a master of writing literature, the reader with his many voices is awesome, however I wish I had purchased the Abridged version. Too many pages devoted to unbelievable characters and situations. It seemed every single human drama was covered in this book; from sexual abuse to infidelity to world population, politics, pollution, religion and everything else in between. Even Saddam was mentioned.
I found particularly annoying the author insistence to end phrases with a preposition.
I say that I wanted to like this book with the very real human dramas but if the author wanted to annoy the reader he certainly succeeded.
DO not reccomend.
I only started this book because Oprah recommended it. The characters and narration bored me from the beginning and then it got worse. I decided I didn't want to waste any more "life" hours listening to this book. I gave it at least 12 hours since I had paid good money for it but once I made the decision to move on, I felt so happy! I downloaded "The Help" and felt enriched by that listening experience. I will definitely read more reviews before choosing my selections in the future.