66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Intimate drama of middle-class American life.,
This review is from: The Corrections (Paperback)
Spanning the last forty years of the 20th century, this is a huge family drama focusing on the elderly parents and three grown children in a midwestern family. To label these characters as dysfunctional does not do justice to their uniquenesses or to the reader's ability to identify with them. Their difficulties as a family arise because the family dynamics require them to hurt each other if they are to be true to themselves. When Enid decides that the whole family must come home to St. Jude's for "one last family Christmas," the stage is set for an emotional family reunion which results in many "corrections."
Enid, the mother, while not assertive in a traditional sense, cleverly wields the age-old guilt ploy to get her own way. Albert, the father, suffers from Parkinson's-induced dementia and creates enormous strains on the rest of the family's emotional resources. Each of the children, now adult and living away from home, brings to the reunion the baggage of the past and the insights obtained independent of the family.
Seven years in the making, this novel is an intimate, domestic drama, smoothly incorporating themes which question who we are, what we owe our parents, how we become who we are, and where we are going. Franzen's pointed observations about contemporary life--as revealed by upscale restaurants, the "green movement," cruise ship behavior, use of the internet for fund-raising, dispensation of "happy pills," nursing homes, and even the crassness of Christmas--enliven the plot as it spirals around and through time and the lives of the five characters. Albert's decline, told in part from his point of view, is particularly heart-breaking. This book offers a stunning and intimate view of a middle-class American family, its values, and its dreams, all presented with wit, sensitivity, and power. Mary Whipple