Book Discussion: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Although this was my book selection for March, I extended it into April as well because I couldn’t quite get it finished in one month’s time. While it took a little longer to read than I initially anticipated, it was absolutely worth it. It’s been a long time since I’ve become so wrapped up in a book and it felt great! Each day I found myself anxiously awaiting some down time in the evening when I would be able to pick it up and continue reading. So there aren’t any spoilers for those still reading, the discussion will start after the jump…

As I alluded to above, I absolutely loved the book. I loved how open and raw the author was with all of the characters. I found it fascinating to observe Joey’s character – while on the outside he was somewhat hard and cold, we saw glimpses of his vulnerability and how much he could despise himself at times. While this family went through years and years of torment and heartbreak, I loved the ending – Joey’s reconciliation with his parents and commitment to Connie, Patty and Walter discovering his each other and their love again. I almost want to start reading it again, to look for intricacies in the story that I may not have picked up on the first time around.

I found myself feeling very sorry for Walter throughout most of the book, as if he was floating through a life that he had no control over, and just reacted to. Part of me hated Joey and part of me was really intrigued by his character, and I grew to like him towards the end of the book. I found Patty and Richard to both be rather despicable in their own right throughout much of the book, and also thought that Lalitha was rather manipulative when it came to Walter.

If you read the book, I’d love to know what you thought! Did you like it, dislike it? What did you think of the characters, how the book evolved, the ending?

The overarching theme, which was woven into numerous scenes in the book, was of course that of freedom. How people use it, what it means to them, and how it can build or destroy relationships. So…

What does freedom mean to you?

To me, freedom means many things, including giving yourself permission to succeed, to love and to feel.

I believe it was summed up nicely in this comment I came across on a travel blog:

“Life is a series of choices –
all you can do every day is choose joy,
choose to be happy,
choose to embrace the choices you’ve already made
and move forward.”

(Stay tuned tomorrow for the May book selection!)


One Response to “Book Discussion: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen”

  1. Ericka @ The Sweet Life on November 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Just saw this little section of your blog. I agree with most of you what said about the book. I found it seriously depressing for the most part. I feel like Franzen just takes the rawness of life that no one ever wants to talk about and puts it on paper. My life isn’t like the people in this book but I look around and SEE that there are many people whose lives ARE like this — and it’s sad. The whole thing. The idea that freedom of choice can actually be like a “prison” all its own resonated in some ways but…it’s such a pessimistic viewpoing.

    Even though I was totally depressed after reading this, I was intrigued and purchased two more Franzen books. I suffered through one but could NOT finish the third. It just got to be too much. It was a learning experience but I think I’m done with Franzen from now on!


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