Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman
337 pgs

On the surface, Ove is a cantankerous 59-year-old curmudgeon. Ever since his wife passed away a few months ago, he has lived alone. He has no family and he has no friends. He spends his days policing his neighborhood, making sure people are complying with the signs and notices posted, following all the rules, and generally ensuring everything is in order. He has no patience for people in general, nor does he believe the world as a whole is headed in the right direction. He has come to the conclusion that it’s time for him to die.

Unfortunately for Ove, every time he tries to end his life, he gets interrupted. Either the pregnant woman, who recently moved in to the neighborhood needs to borrow something, or someone needs him to help with something. All Ove wants is to reunite with his wife, but the world seems to be conspiring against him.

As A Man Called Ove progresses, and Backman slowly reveals Ove's backstory, you begin to see what type of man he truly is. It's not a big shock to learn that deep down Ove has a huge heart--you see that coming a mile away. But the reason this book is so fantastic is the way Backman successfully shows the profound effect that one person can have on the life of another. You learn the story of how Ove's life changed forever they day he met a young woman on a train named Sonja, and how it changed forever again many years later when he had to say goodbye to her for the last time. Backman also shows how Ove's life, seemingly without his knowledge or permission, has just as profound an effect on the life of so many of the people surrounding him late in his life.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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