If you’ve done any research on this book…reading reviews on blogs or on Goodreads…you’ll know that there are an awful lot of people really moved by this book. I’m here to add my two cents worth and tell you it’s all true.
Ove is the curmudeonliest curmudgeon on the planet. He is the old man down the street whose yard you didn’t walk across when you were a kid. He is the neighbor who watches from behind the chained door as you walk down the hall of your apartment or condominium. We all know an Ove. But we don’t all know what makes an Ove. This book not only looks at the creating of a curmudgeon, but it also helps us empathize with the life of someone who is constantly cranky.
Ove is an old man, living alone. He’s a ‘by-the-book’ sort of guy, living a black and white life in a world full of color. One of the very few things he’d ever done that took him out of his comfort zone, was meeting and marrying a beautiful young woman who could see through his rigid exterior to his heart. She is the ‘L’ to his ‘Ove’ – making him complete. But as we meet Ove, his wife of forty years has passed away and he’s been forced in to retirement. There are burglars in the neighborhood and new neighbors who don’t seem to know how to do the simplest of things (such as back up a vehicle with a trailer).
Author Fredrik Backman successfully makes Ove a real person and someone who the reader can relate to, or at least understand and empathize with. And once he’s done that, he lets us in on Ove’s secret, which may surprise some readers. Backman also touches … no … tugs on our hearts. Somehow, Backman makes one of the most cantankerous curmudgeons in literature a symbol of love and hope and the feel-good character of the year.
Maybe there’s a bit of Ove in all of us. I know I was a bit Ove-like before reading the book. I’d seen the reviews and high ratings on Goodreads and thought that there was no way it could really be such a feel-good book, and I began with a “prove it to me” attitude. With that mind-set going in, it took me a little longer, perhaps, than most, but I did succumb to the gentle beauty of the book. I think you will, too.
Looking for a good book? This is it. If you read only one book this year, or you want that perfect book to read on the beach, this should be your first choice.
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A Man Called Ove
author: Fredrik Backman
publisher: Atria Books
translated from Swedish
hardcover, 352 pages