A Man Called Ove
In this “charming debut” (People) from one of Sweden’s most successful authors, 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 Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).
Mr. Backman’s book has been released as an INTERNATIONAL MOVIE soon to be remade here in the U.S., starring TOM HANKS.
The author’s well-written BACKSTORY delves into defining and illuminating moments in Ove’s life, all moments that shaped his PRINCIPLED, commonsensical approach to life, and his all-consuming grief: The strong relationship with his ETHICAL FATHER, close friendships forged years ago in the COMMUNITY before his tragic loss, and years spent with the love of his life, SONYA.
As the story unfolds, my heart warmed and ached for a man whose heart is literally and figuratively, TOO BIG, though camouflaged beneath a crotchety exterior. But behind his gruff exterior is kindness though delivered harshly at times. A brashness that leaves most people speechless, with cheek twitching reactions.
However, Ove’s behavior has the opposite effect on PARVANEH, his new neighbor, and a stubborn stray cat that shows up repeatedly on his doorstep. The two won’t leave him be.
When Parvaneh and her family move next door, she insists on involving an unwilling Ove in her family life, an effort that forges a tight bond and earns him the title of granddad with Parvaneh’s two daughters. A title forever stripped from him by a tragic accident.
Increasingly, Ove becomes an indispensable member of the community. Suicidal attempts he’s made to join his deceased wife halts now that life has given him SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR.
Told in the third person POV, this humorous and heart-warming novel garnered both laughter and tears. I have only good words for Mr. Backman’s story, with one minor complaint, Ove’s age. Fifty-nine seems young for the character the author has depicted. Regardless, this story touched my heart in many ways with its realistic view of what seniors who’ve suffered LOSS and LONELINESS cope with. What I took away from this story is even at the lowest depths of existence there’s always HOPE. For Ove, love came from the unlikeliest of places when he least expected it. Ove’s name is fittingly one letter away from LOVE, given wholeheartedly from Parvaneh and her family.
Mr. Backman’s story delivers wit, cynicism, grief, love, laughter, and tears I confess to having shed in a few scenes. I highly recommend this touching story. Grab a tissue, for surely, your eyes will tear in laughter and sorrow.
Fredrik Backman, a blogger, and columnist is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. His latest novel is BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on Instagram @backmansk.