It is unbelievable to think that I liked almost none of the characters in this book and yet I enjoyed the book itself. Some have referred to Franzen as a simplified DeLillo. If so, I might never give DeLillo another chance because why would I punish myself with his prose, when the more accessible Franzen is available? A book about a disfunctional family, with 5 very different members all trying to find happiness in an unhappy life. Most annoying was probably Caroline, but Gary and her deserve each other in their smugness and hands-off parenting routine. Chip grew on me like fungus, slowly and quietly, until I found him palatable towards the end of the book. Denise was uptight, but alright. Enid made some bad choices and had to live with them, and though I wouldn't envy her life, she annoyed me the most. Al...well...the most complex and the least understood of them all...this book was really about Alfred.The storyline unfolds slowly and little happens initially, except for flashbacks and filling in, but I really enjoyed the last half of the book. The language is easy to digest, but the message can be heavy, which is my favourite sort of book. I have Freedom on my shelves and might be reaching for that, as well as, researching Jonathan Franzen's back catalogue.