The Book Nook

It’s true, I really can read!

(P.S. A non baby-related post to boot!)

THE BOOK: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

My feeble thoughts:  I actually finished this book last year (barely) but you know how I’ve been with blogging and managing my time. Let’s see if I can even remember back that far…

Really, Jonathan Franzen is quite the novelist. But this novel moved like sludge for me, especially the latter part. It follows a “perfect-on-the-outside” liberal middle-class family that set roots in Minnesota (woot woot!). Behind closed doors though, The Berglunds are struggling. Each of the characters are highly flawed and to be honest, fairly dislikable -therefore making it really hard to relate to them. You’ve got Patti, a vey attractive and talented athlete that settles down and gets married to a “nice guy” but whom she was never really in love with. Then there is Walter (the nice guy), a lawyer-environmental activist that is almost too pure, too moral for his own family’s good. They have two children: Joey (rebellious and charismatic) and Jessica (Miss Goody Two Shoes – is that not the stupidest saying?) who aggravate their parent’s already very weakened marriage. I was confused about the book’s layout and perspectives, since they change frequently. In the beginning, you get to learn a lot about Patti and what molded her as a young adult, but not necessarily about Walter. Later on, it focuses on Joey but never Jessica. I found this asymmetry confusing but maybe it’s because I didn’t appreciate the layers this book has to offer. And lastly, the ending was much too muddled with politics and logistics than with the relationships I was hoping would heal.

And the ending? I won’t give anything away but it was meh.

Grade: B

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yes, but only to more literary-minded folks, not those looking for a quick read.

What I am reading now: I started The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo while travelling to MN and have been perusing What To Expect In The First Year for a while now. I doubt I’ll be doing much reading when you-know-who arrives, but hopefully I can squeeze in some “reading for pleasure” time instead of worrying about all of the crap I still need to get done.  It’s looking unlikely though.

Hubs is reading The Game of Thrones series and enjoying them. I don’t have the courage to start; those are massive books! Anyone else pick up a good spring read that they want to recommend?


8 thoughts on “The Book Nook

  1. Isn’t Frantzen the guy who wrote the Viet Nam novel? Seemed to heavy for me. I admire your tenacity. I finished reading a mystery by Louise Penny called A BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. It is about the gregorian chants, how they started and how the monks wrote them down and showed how to sing them. It is set in Canada and I love her writing. I read a non-fiction AWESOME ANIMALS and it described the new discoveries of how animals communicate. Humans have always referred to animals as “dumb” and I am astounded at this because once you deal with an animal, you can see how interesting and profound they are. They “the experts” also said that about infants as well. It is a crazy world. Keep reading!!! I ripped a book review out of a People Magazine at the doctor’s office and plan on picking up THE END OF THE WASP SEASON by Denise Mina – a mystery set in Scotland.

    • No, I don’t think Jonathan Franzen wrote anything about Vietnam – but he did write “The Corrections”, which was very well received. Sounds like you are blasting through books as usual – I have no idea how you do it!

  2. I loved the Dragon Tattoo books. I watched the movies that were made overseas with subtitles and liked them better than the one made in the US.

    • I’ve heard good things too – I hope I make some time for them! I “checked it out” of our local library down the street. It’s a little box in our neighbor’s yard where you can grab books (and add ones in) on the honor system. Cute, eh?

  3. I just finished “Mrs Kennedy & Me” by Clint Hill. He was one of the secret service men who worked with JKO for about 4 years while she was in the white house & the following year. It was very sincere, honest & respectful. It makes your heart break for this somewhat gruff secret service man who went to hell & back with one of the most influential women in US history. It’s a fast read & would be a good one to balance some adult brain with baby brain in a few weeks…..oh my gosh….a few WEEKS!! Wow!!

    • That sounds fascinating and I really should add nonfiction picks to my list of must reads. I
      I know…a FEW WEEKS. GAH!

  4. I really, really enjoyed Freedom. I thought the writing was superb, as were the characters, though as Candace mentioned, the storyline near the end felt a little forced. The book was long, but I was disappointed when it was over so I picked up The Corrections, Frazen’s prior novel, afterwards.

    • You’re a reading machine, Hubs! Someone around here has to pick up the slack for my early bed times and general can’t-get-anything-done…glad it’s you!

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