‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen

The book I would like to tell you about is titled ‘Freedom’ and it has been written by that amazing writer that is Jonathan Franzen.

I often like to think about him as a male Joyce Carol Oates, for the themes he explores in his books.

In this story, Walter Berglund is a lawyer with strong environmental drive, his main focus being an endangered species of songbird, while at the same time he battles against overpopulation and supports childless families.

His wife is Patty, who settled to marry him when her sporting career crumbled and she couldn’t run away with the indie rock star (and Walter’s friend) Richard Katz.

Patty, who feels about her husband like being followed around by a really nice, well-trained dog.

Their children are part of the picture as well. Jessica and Joey, who will grow and walk on two very different paths, exploring themselves and the world by following their parents’ footsteps (Jessica) or utterly rebelling against them (Joey).

Then there’s Richard Katz himself, seemingly the freest of them all, the one who appears to achieve all his goals. Yet, does he really?

Through the eyes of all these characters, we as readers can have a look outside of this middle class family and in time it becomes apparent the big dilemma freedom brings: what right do they have to be happy, when most of the rest of the people live in misery, being it economical or spiritual?

Talking about freedom, though, there is another issue to consider, a question that comes together with quest to save the endangered songbird. What Walter is desperate to do is create a natural reserve where this bird can live free of danger. However, walls have to be erected, in order for danger to stay out.

But then, when a place for freedom has fences, it starts to look a lot like a cage. Is there freedom in a cage?


Learn more about this book by visiting its Goodreads page.



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