Took me for what felt like forever to review Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. It’s “the” book of the fall – not only has Franzen been on EVERY NPR show promoting the book (yes, even Marketplace), but Oprah anointed it as part of her book club, which is odd given this fight they had about Franzen’s last book, The Corrections.

I can see why Oprah made it a pick. The book is about one family, told from multiple points of view from every family member but the main couple’s daughter. The narrative focuses around the mother, Patty, who grew up to liberal NY-based parents and escaped what she considered her odd family on a basketball scholarship to Minnesota. There she makes best friends with a manipulative elf of a woman, and is introduced to two men who will greatly affect the course of her life, from college through middle age.

It’s a political book, too, with much of the narrative focused around a post 9/11 world and the Iraq war.

It’s a good book, but I think I’m going to need to read it again in a few years. It’s still not my favorite Franzen book – that would be How to Be Alone, which is a collection of superb essays.

I wish I had more to say, folks, but that’s it for now. Is it bad that I’m excited for the cheesy romance novel I have up next? Well at least I admit it.

I’m also participating in Nanowrimo, which is a project where a whole bunch of crazy people set out to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’m about 15,000 words in. It’s a lot of crud – and makes me understand why Franzen worked on this book for 10 years. This stuff’s hard.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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