A Man Called Ove
written by Fredrik Backman
published by Atria Books
find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads
Did I enjoy this book: “Oh, my goodness, who IS this cranky person?” I thought after the first pages of A Man Called Ove. But a dear friend recommended the book, a friend whose taste in reading almost always coincides with mine, and so I kept reading. I’m glad I did; I loved this book!
Reading A Man Called Ove is like peeling away layers of wrapping to get to the tiny, shining gift within. Like his Scandinavian neighbors, readers first encounter Ove’s grumpy exterior, but bit by bit, we learn what is beneath.
Ove is a man of principle and loyalty, a gifted craftsman, bereft from boyhood, who is capable of quiet, but stunning, heroism. He’s surrounded by an eclectic bunch of neighbors who are quirky, troubled, and forgiving. Ove takes on the bureaucracy–the suits who have dogged him since his boyhood days. He takes on bigotry. He takes on thieves, and he gives up his own plans for self-destruction to save another. In a very, very understated way, Ove emerges triumphant.
Through it all, I share his aching loss, but the sharing is plated with laughter and little joys, and accompanied by the interest of exploring how life is lived in another culture.
Would I recommend it: I recommend this book to anyone looking for a touching feel-good story without a hint of saccharine sweetness. Stay with it, if that’s your kind of read; you’ll be glad you did!
~ Pam, guest reviewer & EFC Short Story Contest Winner ~
About the book – from Goodreads: In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon;the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell. But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fryand Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.