The audio version of FREEDOM, narrated by David LeDoux is terrific. His voice had a way of immediately drawing you into the world of The Berglund family: Patty, Walter, Jessica and Joey. The Berglunds are part of the baby-boomer generation, and the first third of the book is narrated by Patty as the third person autobiographer (her therapist thought this would be good for her).
Patty and Walter met in college where Patty was a basketball star. Her career ended when she injured her knee. She wanted to marry, have two children and be a stay at home mother. Her life goal was to do a better job raising her children than her mother had done. Patty has had a long time attraction to her husband's college roommate Richard Katz, a former rock star. In addition, Patty has what seems like an unhealthy obsession with her son Joey. Although, early on, Joey's actions disappoint Patty and Walter, beginning in high school when he sleeps with the trashy neighbor's daughter, and then later moves in with the family. However, this will not be the only incident that causes stress in the lives of the Berglunds. Patty's depression is an issue throughout most of the novel.
Walter is very low key, and at least initially puts his needs aside, taking a job in the corporate world, to ensure that his wife and family are provided for. A lawyer and environmentalist, Walter too struggles with life issues, and a case of the "Is this all there is syndrome". An executive for a Nature Conservatory, he sees his home life crumbling around him, but doesn't seem to know what to do to make things better. Walter's issues with son Joey, are not all that different from some of the issues both Walter, and Patty experienced with their own parents.
Without sharing too much of the plot, FREEDOM is a multi-layered story, about personal FREEDOM: the "freedom" and consequences of ones personal life choices, whether it be: relationships, careers, child rearing, or life choices in general. The lives of the Berglund's seemed very realistic. The family was not always likable, but flaws and all they could be most any of our neighbors. I thought it was very interesting to see how although both Patty and Walter shunned the parenting style of their own mother and father, in the end their own lives, and issues were very similar, reinforcing the fact that we cannot always escape our past.
The audio book was great, but one complaint I had was that it seemed longer than necessary at times. The writing was terrific though, and at times, laugh-out-loud funny as well. If you enjoyed The Corrections (2001) by Franzen, then I think you will enjoy this novel as well. Both novels take place at least partially in the mid-west, and the Lambert's and their three children (Corrections), and the Berglund's, (Freedom), certainly have some similar dysfunction issues at the heart of each story. RECOMMENDED
RATING - 4/5 Stars - Audio Book