Purity | Jonathan Franzen

The cover of Franzen's PurityFranzen frustrates me.

His craftsmanship is top notch. He handles dialogue, character perspective, and pacing expertly. He is among the best novelists writing today.

The topics he explores in this book are all fascinating—the fall of Eastern Germany, Internet information leaks, family mystery. I expected to love Purity.

My frustration comes with the character of his characters. They are just plain unlikable. They act with selfish cruelty that leaves me confused about who to cheer for. The anti-hero is so anti, there’s nothing redemptive.

Franzen has painted a world I don’t want to live in, although the mystery gripped me until the end. One of Purity’s final thoughts illustrates the whole:

It had to be possible to do better than her parents, but she wasn’t sure she would. (563)

—Jonathan Franzen, Purity (Toronto, ON: Bond Street Books, 2015).

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