Synopses & Reviews
Jonathan Franzen's gift for wedding depth and vividness of character with breadth of social vision has never been more dazzlingly evident than in Crossroads.
It's December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless — unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who's been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.
Jonathan Franzen's novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America. Now, in Crossroads, Franzen ventures back into the past and explores the history of two generations. With characteristic humor and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that resonates powerfully with our own.
A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, its action largely unfolding on a single winter day, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen's gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.
"Crossroads is Franzen’s greatest and most perfect novel to date.” Bookforum
“Funny, sad, [and] unputdownable.” Vanity Fair
“A compelling examination of faith, privilege and ambition.” Time
"[Franzen] imbues his books with big ideas, in this case about responsibility to family, self, God, country, and one's fellow man, among other matters... Franzen's intensely absorbing novel is amusing, excruciating, and at times unexpectedly uplifting—in a word, exquisite." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Franzen returns with a sweeping and masterly examination of the shifting culture of early 1970s America, the first in a trilogy... Throughout, Franzen exhibits his remarkable ability to build suspense through fraught interpersonal dynamics. It's irresistible." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[A] masterful, Tolstoian saga... Franzen adroitly portrays eternal generational conflicts... This masterpiece of social realism vividly captures each character's internal conflicts as a response to and a reflection of societal expectations, while Franzen expertly explores the fissions of domestic life, mining the rich mineral beneath the sediments of familial discord. In this first volume of a promised trilogy, Franzen is in rarified peak form." Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Jonathan Franzen is the author of Purity, The Corrections, and Freedom, among other novels, and works of nonfiction including Farther Away and The Kraus Project, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.