Customer Reviews for

Freedom

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

44 out of 53 people found this review helpful.

Sad, but still an interesting read

Not as great as The Corrections, but...there is something about Franzen's writing that makes it difficult for me to put it down. This story was so realistic in many ways to my experiences and those of my friends (predominately boomers), as well as our adolescent and you...
Not as great as The Corrections, but...there is something about Franzen's writing that makes it difficult for me to put it down. This story was so realistic in many ways to my experiences and those of my friends (predominately boomers), as well as our adolescent and young adult kids. He really gets family ties and the effects of depression on relationships. I felt like I knew Patty. You feel like you are right there... watching or experiencing everything, especially the effects of 9/11 on everything (I live near DC and he gets everything right about it). I would read him again and again. Recommend for book clubs.

posted by Bookbabe53 on September 15, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

32 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

What'chu talkin 'bout Oprah

Not sure why Oprah picked this book, it was hard to read, I put it down and re-started it five times, I finally finished it, but kind of wished I would not have. Very boring, self serving story about a not so normal family. I would not reccomend this to anyone, sorry...
Not sure why Oprah picked this book, it was hard to read, I put it down and re-started it five times, I finally finished it, but kind of wished I would not have. Very boring, self serving story about a not so normal family. I would not reccomend this to anyone, sorry Oprah. If you are looking for a good read, try Unconditional. It is well written story, with well developed characters. The plot twist and ending will certainly surprise you, and I guarantee that you wont put it down until you reach the end.

posted by Tammy01 on September 24, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2010

    Long term investors only--no day traders allowed

    If you want instant gratification this isn't the book for you.

    Franzen is a master manipulator who steals your freedom and shackles you--both vicariously, through the repressions, obligations, confoundedness and slavish desires of his own characters--and literally, with pages and pages of relentless social, environmental, and political diatribes. It's like being tied to a chair and ideologically pistol-whipped. He baits you with "will they or won't they" sexual tensions, and then sets the hook deeper and deeper with end-of-chapter cliff hangers.

    Then, round about page 435 (ereader edition) he gives you your first taste of freedom--a heady, wondrous taste of freedom. Through self-discovery and self-understanding and unconditional love some bit of redemption is had. This is ultimately not an intellectual book but an experiential one and you won't experience its substantial joys and rewards until you pay the price. Freedom, apparently, ain't free.

    I was astonished to find, after disliking many aspects of this book and feeling uninvested in the characters emotionally throughout most of it, myself weeping at the end. It really is masterful in a very unexpected way and I think that's why the critics are in a tizzy. Perhaps it doesn't exactly have something new to say, but it has a new way of saying it. It has a new way of making you feel it that doesn't pander or sentimentalize. In a unique way it gets to the heart of something honest and real about humanity and the world in the new millennium.

    21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    Smart but no fun

    I thought this book was very well written and enjoyed reading it, but it is not a lively read. There is not much humor or levity in the book. The characters are well-developed. I did have empathy for them despite their flaws and believe that the book was about redemption in this sense. I'm glad I read it but was glad when I finished it and could leave them behind.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2010

    miss misfit what a idiot

    so the very violent pulp fiction is great work to read. its nothing great just like miss misfit. i mean come on what do you know about books. how low can she go. haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    3 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    Flashes of brilliance... but just that.

    Too bad. You know at times I felt like driving to the nearest ocean and throwing this book into it, which wouldn't have been a problem for me considering I live on the ocean. At times it was captivating, intriguing, I didn't want to put it down. But most of the time it was drawn out, pointless, and just... boring.

    2.5 stars rounded up to 3

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2014

    Family drama - fine if a little slow

    This book was recommended by a friend. And he warned me that he has recommended it often, but that people who have read it have had mixed reviews.

    Personally, it's just not my type of book. Very much a family drama focussing on six people.

    I wish I had found it more involving. There was a point about a third of the way through that I was sorely tempted to put it down - but it's hard for me to stop reading a book even if I'm not finding it terribly enjoyable. I kept with it and it picked up.

    I just don't think intimate family dramas are my type of read. If that's what you're looking for, this is probably a good book for you.

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  • Posted May 27, 2014

    I spent about three weeks listening to this book on CD as I comm

    I spent about three weeks listening to this book on CD as I commuted back and forth to work, all 19 discs. If I had actually tried to sit down and read "Freedom, "I think I would have abandoned it unfinished by now. Like many novels, the first half or so is detailed and developed, but the last half feels like the author was in a hurry just to get finished, and the anticlimactic ending left me unsatisfied. The book is very much written by a guy, and one who has managed to publish every last sexual fantasy that's run through his mind since he last wrote a book, some of which are really unnecessary for the plot development. Franzen also tends to stereotype most of his characters to the point where they are neither believable nor likable, so that by the time the book is done, the reader is relieved to be rid of them--especially the annoying Indian chic, Lalitha. I did manage to learn a bit more about the environment and birds in particular, but being a cat owner, I think I will continue to let my kitty enjoy the outdoors, and if I ever meet anyone like Walter Berglund, I'll make sure it's only once. Mr. Franzen, I hope your next novel comes sooner, that it is shorter, and that you will find a more compelling plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

    9+ months

    It took me over 9 months to finish this book. I didn't connect with any of the characters, which makes it difficult to care, which makes it feel like work to read. I kept reading because I kept thinking, any second it could get interesting. It just never seemed interesting to me.

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  • Posted August 15, 2013

    If you read the 'overview' you get the gist of this book...way t

    If you read the 'overview' you get the gist of this book...way too many words to explain what the hell is going on...On page 450 I thought again about giving up, hoping that I would like just one of these pathetic people. I keep hoping that somewhere there is a meaning to this novel. Read Arcadia....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    Blazekit

    Ahh she runs back to love heart hermom and hides behind feathersong her friend

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    I almost stopped reading the book while everyone was still in St

    I almost stopped reading the book while everyone was still in St. Paul. There was not on character that I would like to know. Usually an author has at least someone who is endearing. Maybe Walter's assisstant would be nice to have lunch with, not any of the rest though. I suppose it is a good representation of a generation, but what a sorry state the country, world is in. Walter tried to be good, but holier than thou ultimately. Self centered, selfish people..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2011

    Great Writer - Bad Editing

    A brillant novel got lost in this massive work. I don't know whether to blame the author or the editor. The author has "a beef" about many things (energy hogs, bird killing cats, preppie frauds). I've never read a book so full of soapbox theater. By then end, I felt as if I had witnessed ugly rants and raves rather than read a literary work. Precious trees were wasted printing a book that should have been edited down 50%. Please keep writing Mr. Frazen, but try to resist putting the reader through the extraneous next time. Your talent deserves better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    We gonna see in a theater near you...

    Those characters will work good on a movie. We ll be a blockbuster.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    Interesting and perfect take on the material

    Not quite my style of book. The writing is fantastic though. Really captures the exact demographic it was looking to cover.

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  • Posted February 20, 2011

    After reading it, I am not sure what the ultimate message is??? Is anyone free of emotional baggage?

    At the midway point in this book, all I can say about it is that it is non-stop about dysfunction. All of the characters are weak people who succumb to their basest instincts regardless of the people that they take down with themselves. They are drunks, womanizers, vandals, upstarts, disobedient and reckless children, rude and disrespectful children, rednecks, women who do not respect the parental rights of neighbors, beatnik personalities, liberals, environmentalists, selfish people one and all, who are sure they have the one right way, all of whom seem to have a skewed view of morality and ethics. They are not in touch with their inner selves and seem to be constantly searching for their core. It is a tough book to read because it is impossible to like the characters, and certainly, one does not want to identify with them. One has to wonder why Oprah chose this book. Certainly, it is well written, and it is an entertaining read, but its main redeeming feature will be that it plays to liberals who love the Bush bashing and general trashing of Republicans or those with conservative views. One has to further wonder if Oprah's reason for choosing the book was the fact that her candidate, President Obama, is running for re-election and bashing and blaming Bush seems to be his main winning campaign strategy! We all know how he inherited the problems that he has failed to solve. I am sick of these books which are written to advance and promote someone's political agenda as they masquerade as literature and are praised by an industry peopled with one-sided left of center viewpoints. Also, I am getting quite tired of seeing Jews depicted negatively in so many books, lately. What is the reason for that? I guess it is obvious that this book has irritated my senses. I soldiered on and finished the book. My opinion is totally unchanged. I wasted an awful lot of time reading about the deterioration of an American family consumed by their own selfishness, never failing to seek the lowest common denominator under the guise of doing something noteworthy and selfless. They had no redeeming features and there was no shred of a positive message that I could find to take away from this overblown, distorted and negative view of Americans and their values. We are not all driven by greed or sex. Some of us actually enjoy our lives and our families and our work and manage to live without hurting others to achieve our own self-interest. The two extremes of the left and right presented in this book represent what is wrong with America but it is not an accurate picture; it is the picture the author wishes to impart. He has managed to make it seem that even altruistic goals always have an underlying, underhanded motive. I found the book depressing and disappointing. I gave it three stars because it is well written. If it wasn't, I would have given it no stars. It flies in the face of reality. If the dysfunctional people in the book ever get control of our world, our world will probably cease to exist. We don't have the time to waste on people who never grow up and need to find themselves in their fifth or sixth decade. That permissive attitude leads to the very decadence the book exposes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A book of tedium.

    Long, tedious, uninspired wreck of a novel bogged down with unnecessarily intense detail and petty, unsympathetic characters who all speak impeccable English inundated with big words as a testament to their perfect, expensive educations.

    Reading this felt more like a chore, and one that I could have easily given up had I not had the determination to finish and the hope that, in the end, some redemption would happen. I don't feel I got any of that with Freedom.

    Honestly, I don't see how 500 pages chronicling one pathetic group of people could be considered a great achievement in the literary arts.

    SKIP.

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  • Posted January 18, 2011

    Unexpectedly entertaining

    I came to this book expecting a chronicling of a young couple who personifies the new yuppies of the 21st century - eco-minded, urban revitalization idealists who are just trying to return to a way of life they thought once was. This book presents that with a very sad, personal, side. It's a story of bad timing, substitute love, and general sense of lostness that is at the heart of the x and y generations. Big dreams and lives that are fraught with constant fighting - fighting to be something other than what they really are, fighting against a culture that shouldn't be, and fighting to make a new generation in their children to fit their ideal.

    I'm not sure I like this book; yet, I can't seem to put it down. I feel like I keep hoping that these two main characters get it together, figure it out and find that contentment they so desire. I find so much of my life in each one of these characters who are so different yet so similar in very fundamental ways.

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    Not what I expected but I still enjoyed it

    Although it took me a while to get into the story, I ended up enjoying the book. Mind you, this is one of those books you have to be in the mood to read if you're looking for an interesting story of family dynamics, life's challenges and temptations, and results of choices we make. It also brought to light some serious and controversial issues that American families are faced with in the current times.

    I'm not seeing it as one of the "best books of the year" that critics are suggesting, but it is an enjoyable, thoughtful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2011

    Just okay

    It ended well, but I have to agree with the rest of the reviews that there was not one very likeable character who I felt a connection with. The corrections was better because the characters were very flawed and real but they were someone one could identify with. The female basketball player personality wasn't interesting or intelligent or reediming in any way, just self absorbed and shallow. I am recommending Van Rae's book, it's not something Oprah would ever promote but it's actually intriguing with flawed characters that are loveable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2011

    it was just ok

    page turner, but i felt flat at the end.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    wanted to love it...but did not

    Loved, loved, loved The Corrections and was thrilled to see his new novel on the shelves. Too long, too slow, too overworked in details. could not finish it.

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