Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For the past couple years, the literary character I've most identified with--like a majority of young, American men--is Salinger's Holden Caulfield, a brooding teenage guy discontent with the state of the world in which he finds himself trapped. Special thanks goes out to Jonathan Franzen for flipping my brain (and heart) upside-down and making me connect wholly with Patty Berglund, a depressed, middle-aged housewife who, like the other characters in the masterful novel FREEDOM, is trapped by her right to live free. Who would've thought that a 500+ page book could feel so short? I found myself wanting more chapters on each of the beautiful, tragically drawn characters. Every time I wanted to hate Patty for one of her glaring faults (especially during the "autobiography" chapters), I realized that I often suffer from strikingly similar shortcomings and ideological imperfections. In short, I felt like Franzen was writing directly to me, and my freedom.
I wasn't expecting Walter and Patty to end up back together in the final chapter. After the amount of tragedy they'd endured--mostly due to Patty's failures--I was bracing myself for a heartrending end. I nearly cried when they reunited. I also loved that Joey matured into an admirable man. The novel offers so much hope and love in its final pages, that I almost want to call it a modern fairy tale.
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