Book Review: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

January 25, 2011

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a book review here, but I want to bring them back. It’s a good discipline for me because it helps me think more deeply about what I’ve read instead of crashing into the next book, and since I love reading my friends’ book reviews I’m hoping that some of you will benefit from reading mine.


I recently finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen for book club. It came highly recommended to me by my friend Spring, whose taste I admire. When I read the summary my first question to her was, “Is it super depressing?” I wasn’t in the mood for that. She said no, absolutely not, so I jumped right in.

The story is about a dysfunctional family. The parents, Enid and Alfred, have been married for over 50 years and have never been truly happy together. Now Alfred has Parkinson’s disease, and Enid is obsessed with having one last Christmas in their midwestern home.

Their three children, Gary, Chip, and Denise, have all moved to the east coast. Gary is trying to convince his wife and kids that he’s not depressed, Chip is struggling to make a living as a writer after being fired from his job as a professor, and Denise is the chef for a successful restaurant but can’t get her love life figured out.

All of them are severely flawed, but I couldn’t help but love them anyway. In fact, I could choose any one of them as my favorite character. I really enjoyed reading about a family with three grown children because that’s the phase of life I’m entering now. I have two brothers and although we and our parents aren’t quite as old as the characters in the book, it was interesting to compare the way my family and I relate to each other to the way the characters do.

I agree that the book isn’t super depressing – it does have a lot of humor – but it’s not exactly what you would call happy or uplifting, either. Mostly, it’s real, and it’s stuck with me.

By the way, this is the first time I’ve read anything by Franzen, and now I get why he’s so popular. He can go on for pages about the most mundane topic and I will be enthralled. At times the prose goes a little overboard, but most of it begs to be read aloud and underlined. I’ll definitely be reading his other books at some point.

Posted in: books & reading, book reviews, books & reading

Comments on Book Review: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

  1. 1

    From andrewo:


  2. 2

    From dadman:

    Sounds like I need to put that on reserve at the library. Tx for the tip.

  3. 3

    From Nora:

    I’ve heard good things about his work; haven’t touched any of it yet. My mom recently borrowed some of his essays from the library. She thinks they are pretty good too!

  4. 4

    From Stephany:

    Sounds like a pretty fascinating read!

    (And can I just say how glad I am that you’re going to do more book reviews again? I love your reviews!)

  5. 5

    From LG:

    I put this on hold at the library – thanks for the recommendation!

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