I couldn't finish it. The book is well written, but I hated the characters so much that I finally just put it down.
The book is held up as one of the greatest books of all time and I just don't get it. I don't mind long books with a lot of descriptive language but often the author seems to write to impress himself. I forced myself to finish the book with the hopes that all the suffering would lead to a great ending but it did not. Dissapointing, long and overrated.
The dust jacket blurb was right: Jonathan Franzen's Freedom was an epic of contemporary love and marriage, and one of the most enjoyable books I've read so far in 2011. The story centers on Patty and Walter, satisfyingly framing them and their family first from the perspective of neighbors (and each other) and then panning in to see how each person ticks over many years. It explores various life stages in all their complexity, with both comic and tragic moments, while endearing the characters with all their self-justifying flaws. At the same time, it was a platform to expound on environmentalism and Walter's pet cause, population control. Politically invested readers should note that Republicans are looked down upon by most of the characters, but it's the liberals who are portrayed in all their dysfunctional glory. Freedom also invited me to reflect on the meaning of freedom in the political and civil societal senses, as well as what freedom means with respect to family, friendship, and one's past. A wonderful read whose (somewhat contrived) end I didn't want to reach.
Getting used to Franzen's style takes some time. Although I liked this book, I found the characters to be quite annoying. So much so, that more often than not, I wanted to shake some sense into their spoiled-rotten heads. Maybe that's what Franzen wanted me to feel and if so, he did a good job. Like so many people I see today, they are stuck on themselves, don't think before they act, and remove themselves from nature - a big mistake, as we are a part of that circle of life. I liked the story nonetheless and especially related to Walter in his obsession with birds, the natural world, the environment and how we're destroying it, overpopulation, etc. I too, could go over the edge like him...
I really wanted to find this book totally enthralling; however, my interest began to ebb when I couldn't find a reason to care about the characters and their totally self-absorbed lives. I think Franzen writes very well, and I hoped that Freedom would be a better vehicle for his talent than The Corrections. Apparently he is simply not the author for me.