There are no perfect characters in Franzen’s novel. There are no Mary Sue’s. Each and every character has their good and bad. Some are more ‘good’ than they are bad. And some are the reverse. But not one person is more than they should be. The characters have their happy fulfilled moments, but they also experience their own heart wrenching drama. And all the pain they experience is of their own doing.
And it isn’t just the characters that make Franzen’s work so memorable (although we do all want to “talk about Patty”). Franzen’s natural affinity for the written word is what makes Freedom whole. He has an ability in making long sentences sound just right. And at first, because the words just flow over the course of the book, you don’t think twice about it. It’s not until you think about it a third or fourth or fifth time, when you are say, discussing it at a book club, that you realize you just read a sentence that spanned 6 or 8 lines, and it barely phased you. And while many may not take this into consideration, it is a feat to wonder at. His sentences are not only thoughtful, but meticulously structured. And it is this, that makes you realize how talented a wordsmith Franzen is.
So for those who are looking for an enthralling read this summer, I highly suggest you read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. While not the normal lighthearted summer read, its character more than makes up for it.