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 fifty years.
It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is 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
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.