At first glance it may seem that some people are just parodies of a certain type of person. In this book Jonathan Franzen makes it impossible to ‘figure out’ and dismiss any of the characters. They are drawn broadly and then in close up. It’s not sentimental and Franzen doesn’t force the issue (most of the time the story just rolls out in a fun, swashbuckling way) but I was saddened and moved by the truth that everyone was once a child, everyone has so much more to them than meets the eye, and being one’s own ‘best’ self in a family (or elsewhere) can be so infuriatingly difficult. Meanwhile, I loved the humor in here; I was laughing throughout.