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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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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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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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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Wow!

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

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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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Loved This Book!

Great narrator, such a tragedy in ways and yet I found myself laughing out loud! Well rounded characters I loved and hated, yet, I miss them but hear there's more to come. Bravo Jonathan Franzen. Thank you, you made my summer so much more enjoyable! ☀️

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Pea coats potheads and peyote

At first I found the narration a bit bland but he warms up. The first half was hard going then I was drawn in. Brilliant writing and style if too detailed at times. I remember the 70s well from a British pov and the Vietnam war. A great family saga and interesting on indigenous people.

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Incredible narrator

Best narration I’ve ever heard. Might start searching for more books he’s read. The book itself is good too, obviously.