Booklist Reviews 2015 July #1
*Starred Review* Franzen follows Freedom (2010) with Purity, a novel in which his signature qualities converge in a new, commanding fluidity, from his inquiry into damaged families to his awed respect for nature, brainy drollery, and precise, resonant detail. Pip is a lonely and floundering young woman burdened with massive student debt and living with odd roommates in a derelict mansion in Oakland, California. She is exceedingly close to her mother, Anabel, a hermit of extreme sensitivity and incendiary secrets who steadfastly refuses to reveal the identity of Pip's father. Her daughter's actual name, Purity, is testament to Anabel's debilitating obsessions. Pip embarks on an internship with the Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks-like group run by the charismatic Andreas Wolf, an arrogant and opportunistic East German with a shocking past. In this masterfully plotted tale populated by exceptionally complex characters caught in an ever-expanding web of startling connections and consequences, Franzen takes us to the grimly smothering world of the Stasi; franchised, feedlot-poisoned, and fracked Texas; and the Sunlight Project's Bolivian jungle hideout. As the surprising, suspenseful, archly comedic story unspools, Franzen takes measure of secrecy and transparency, altruism and selfishness, boldly paralleling the tyranny of socialism with the intrusions of the digital realm even as he asserts that "nature . . . made a mockery of information technology." Franzen has created a spectacularly engrossing and provocative twenty-first-century improvisation on Charles Dickens' masterpiece, Great Expectations. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Purity will be one of the most talked about books of the season, and a national marketing campaign will fuel the buzz. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2015 April #1
This new novel feels a bit different from Franzen's previous works but is still soaked in family concerns. Named Purity but called Pip, the young heroine is burdened with student debt and squatting with anarchists in Oakland, even as she shadowboxes relentlessly with her mom. After a chance encounter with a German peace activist, Pip accepts an internship in South America with the Sunlight Project, which aims to unearth the world's secrets. (Maybe she'll learn who her dad is.) Charismatic Sunlight leader Andreas Wolf gets interested in Pip, as the issues veer from parenting to the war between the sexes.[Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2015 July #1
Does anyone have truly pure intentions, or are most people motivated by their own needs and desires? This is one of the questions posed by Franzen (The Corrections, Freedom) in his provocative new novel, a book rich with characters searching for roots and meaning in a world of secrets and lies. Pip (Purity) Tyler is burdened with college debt, a minimum-wage job, and a needy yet withholding mother who lives as a recluse under an assumed name. The identity of Pip's father is a taboo subject. Enter the shadowy, Julian Assange-like CEO of the Sunlight Project, Andreas Wolf, purveyor of all the Internet's hidden truths. With less than pure objectives, Wolf offers Pip a researcher position at his South American headquarters. An improbable sexual cat-and-mouse game between them causes a temporary drag in the narrative, but once Pip returns stateside and is embedded in the offices of an online journal, Franzen reveals moments of absolute genius. The cathartic power of tennis; the debilitating effects of jealousy; the fickle, fleeting nature of fame; and the slow death of youthful idealism are all beautifully captured. VERDICT National Book Award winner Franzen, who often decries the state of our increasingly materialistic, high-tech society via his essays and novels, this time proffers a more hopeful, sympathetic worldview. Demand will be high. [See Prepub Alert, 3/9/15.]—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL[Page 76]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.