Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
Follows a couple as they meet, marry, breed, and then fall apart
Let’s say you have to drive cross-country. Or, let’s say you have to drive North to South. Three days worth of driving. America, the open road. You’ll make it to Florida eventually. What would you like to listen to during the 24 hours to get there? Something sweeping, and big, but wholly of modern America. A journey for your journey. Jonathan Franzen wrote a book just for you and your road trip, and it’s called Freedom.
Franzen’s follow-up to the obscenely popular The Corrections follows the lives of Minnesotans Patty and Walter Berglund from the eighties to the aughts, as they meet, marry, breed, and then fall apart, all in an epic, generation-defining fashion. As one character muses about these complex, imperfect, and mostly damned characters early in the book, “I don’t think they’ve figured out yet how to live.”
Patty’s a former athlete who committed her competitive spirit to being the best damn mother in the Midwest. Walter’s a dreamy environmentalist working within the confines of corporate America. Thrown into the mix is one of the undeniably coolest characters in recent fictional memory: Walter’s best college friend (and Patty’s longtime secret crush) Richard, a punk rock musician who moved to New York and never quite made it beyond the bottom rung of cult status. Richard lives in a particular kind of purgatory: he makes a living building decks for spoiled New Yorkers.
Who else? White trash neighbors hell bent on stealing the love of the Berglund’s beloved son Joey. The Berglund’s straight-as-an-arrow daughter Jessica, who might just save the world one day. There’s also Walter’s stunning, mysterious and exotic assistant. And birds – one of Franzen’s real life passions – as far as the eye can see. As a bonus, David LeDoux narrates this bestselling novel with clarity and passion, the perfect voice in your head to bring you safely to your destination.