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Publisher's Summary

The instant New York Times best seller

A Guardian Best Fiction Book of 2021

An Independent Book of the Year

A White Review Book of the Year

A Lit Hub Best Book of the Year

Set in a historical moment of moral crisis, Crossroads is the stunning foundation of a sweeping investigation of human mythologies, as the Hildebrandt family navigate the political and social crosscurrents of the past 50 years.

A White Review Book of the Year

A Lit Hub Best Book of the Year

It’s 23rd December 1971, and heavy weather is the 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 their keen-eyed take on the complexities of contemporary America. Now, for the first time, in Crossroads, Franzen explores the history of a generation. With characteristic humour and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that feels no less immediate.

A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a historical moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.

©2021 Jonathan Franzen (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"A literary genius for our time." (Guardian)

"Arguably America’s greatest living novelist." (Daily Telegraph)

"Franzen is that rare bird: a literary novelist of the highest distinction who has also become one of the bestsellers of the age." (Evening Standard)

"His best novel yet.... A Middlemarch-like triumph." (Telegraph)

What listeners say about Crossroads

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-21

Good narrator. story too long for my liking.

Good narrator. story goid but too long for my liking. struggle to finish it. religion not my fave theme

4 people found this helpful

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  • ClareBC
  • 11-07-21

Thoroughly recommended

The characters are extraordinarily dissected, flawed and sympathetic (mostly). only criticism is the length, some parts too extended, painful but perhaps that's the author's intent.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-18-21

A novel to feed the brain of an 87yr old widow

I loved the richness of the language and skilful weaving together of every strand. Masterful.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeremy Herrin
  • 01-05-22

A great novel

Believe the hype - it’s beautifully plotted and paced.

Bring on the rest of the trilogy.

Wonderful stuff.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paula Payne
  • 12-21-21

Wow!

This is absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait for more. Just genius writing. A towering achievement.

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  • Peter Robb
  • 10-26-21

no start, no middle, no end but solid story

Very clever story telling, lad paints amazing pictures and you are in no doubt of the characters, you feel you know them, they are real... the story just ambles and would probably feel slow and pointless to a lot of people or a younger version of myself but I will definitely go back and read his others... it will end up on a lot of lists this book, 100 greatest whatevers...

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  • Chrissie
  • 05-23-22

Wonderful story.

I loved Freedom and so listened to Crossroads. I was not disappointed! Beautifully written and great narration. Can't wait for the next Jonathan Franzen read.

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  • J. Campbell
  • 05-07-22

Long but worth it

Really enjoyed story and themes and how it all unfolded. Great characters- so rounded and complex. Intertwining of their lives excellent.
Narrator good but when he spoke as female characters it was slightly grating particularly when supposed to be young . I’d prefer books to have different voices when that’s case.

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  • Emily Senior
  • 03-10-22

Disappointing

Absolutely dreadful in every way. I hated it. Pointless, meaningless, distressing and boring at the same time.

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  • avagardro
  • 03-09-22

Franzen does it again.

A tale of family. excited to know it's #1 in a trilogy. don't listen if you like fast paced eventful stories. Franzen is not for you. I however always really enjoy his work.

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  • Prufrock
  • 11-20-21

I wanted to like this but I didn’t

Having finally finished Crossroads I just feel relief. I know Franzen has mastery of his craft, but I struggled to like or identify with any of the characters (except perhaps Clem). As a satire it was particularly brutal and I suspect that having grown up in Australia, where Christianity is less intrusive, I simply had my prejudices reinforced. Here was a family of Christians who seemed to ignore the tenets of their faith and I felt little sympathy for their wallowing self loathing. I was also jarred by the level of hatred being spewed. Perhaps I missed the point...cultural differences and all that, but I won’t be hanging out for the two other volumes of the trilogy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-06-21

A rich saga

This story is long and satisfying as it delves into this family with all its nuances and idiosyncrasies. With the backdrop of the 70s, women’s liberation movement, racism and religion, a fantastic read.

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  • Simon Fleming
  • 12-04-21

I would not have enjoyed it so much reading it

I would not have enjoyed it nearly as much reading it. The story lends itself to being read to me. I would have become so bogged down in the detail I would have lost the thread of the story. I have read other works by the author and never appreciated how good a writer he is

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-06-22

Ok...ish

I found this book a bit of a slog to finish. If I had been reading the book I would not have persevered. Individual character stories were good but really drawn out, with it boiling down to coming of age and parents at a crossroads in life, all around a 1970's Christian world. this was the heavy theme throughout and dilemmas that they experience....I struggled most with the religious righteousness and ignorance of these people. I did enjoy parts of the book but definately not others and then the book just ends...