I just finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen this weekend and if you are looking for a good Christmas gift this time of year I would recommend this novel. Although I read a couple of reviews that said by the end you still don’t care for any of the characters I found too much of myself and others in many of characters to dismiss them so easily (although early in the book I felt that exact way). As the book stands quite well as just a reflection on messed up a family can be in the modern world but it also lives well as a essay on its title. One of my favorite scenes is when the mother is visiting her daughter at college and see a big sign that says: “USE WELL THY FREEDOM.” And reflecting on the novel I think that is one the real interesting concepts to both view the book through as well as modern life. Here is quote from Franzen himself on why he choose the title:
And I will say this about the abstract concept of ‘freedom’; it’s possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I’m free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom.
It was a blast to read and I was kind of sad to goodbye to family as the book came to a close. I do think that these words from Dr. Carter work well as a postscript for the Christian reading the book:
God-with-Us means we are free to be for another, for their good, for their flourishing, for their well-being. In this sense, Christmas is liberation, which is love.