But Andy’s happiness, no matter how exactly written (or perhaps because of this) doesn’t translate off the page any better than Berry’s Thoreau-like musings on the importance of nature, of isolation, of hard work. The text itself, ironically, lacks the merest shred of the freedom that Berry and his characters speak so wistfully of: there’s so little room for interpretation that you’ll have to read paragraphs over and over again to follow their precise (and yet so slight) plotting. To be clear, this is due in part to Berry’s three-part approach, which forgoes a straightforward narrative for a series of musings that center around Andy and the loose concept of freedom but do not always tie together in doing so. Quite frankly, it’s a bit of an unrewarding slog, and I think it coasts a bit on the broadness and good-will (among environmentalists, at least) of its title.
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