Hello, my dear fellow bookworms! How are you all doing? Today, I’m going to be reviewing one of my new favorite books, A Man Called Over by Fredrik Backman. This was a sad, but also hilarious read, and I’m so excited to try the rest of Backman’s books.
Book: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Summary: 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.
Quote: “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
*Ove. He’s grumpy, he’s temperamental, he’s cranky, and he has rigid routines that can not be broken or discarded so simply. He is up at 5:45 in the morning, and you had better not turn on the lights or the radiators, lest you get a sharp telling off, or you might find yourself flung out into the snow. He is also blunt, has strict principles, and if you do not drive a Saab, or God forbid, if you drive one of those foreign cars, then you should do everything in your ability to steer very far and clear of him. But Ove is also heartbroken, he’s lonely, he’s sad. His wife has passed on, leaving him to continue in the world alone. Everyone sees a grumpy and cranky old man, but in reality, he hides behind this facade while he grieves and misses his wife terribly on the inside. As they said in the book: “But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.”
*Parvaneh and co. They were the right dose of lightness and hilarity that was needed in this heartbreak of a book. I loved how similar Parvaneh and Ove’s tempers were, and it was fun reading about them screaming back and forth at each other, before Ove grumbled and gave in. He reminded me of a little kid in those moments, and Parvaneh of an annoyed mother (which she is). I also loved how he got to know his neighbors as time went on, and he became more involved in the community. It was so sweet and made me feel so warm and happy, especially when they became like one big family by the end of the book.
*Ove’s past and Sonja. The chapters in which they talked about how Ove grew up, and then when he met Sonja were the hardest, and saddest to read. Ove lost so much early on in his life, but it helped give him a set of principles that he still abides by to this day. I really wanted to hug him, and apologize to him for the cruelty of the world. And then he met Sonja. The way he talked about her, the way she loved him even with his stiffness, and grumpiness was so sweet. They were two very different people, but they were also super compatible in a way. When she died, Ove lost something again, and was left alone, as he’d been when he was a child. These were truly the saddest and most painful chapters. Sonja came bursting into his life with all her color, her laughter, her energy, and her sunshine, and then, she was gone. Leaving him to continue life without her. Something that he didn’t want to do. “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was his color. All the color he had.”
*Suicide. At the beginning of the book, Ove is determined to die, so that he can join his wife and leave the misery and the hollowness behind. But each time, his attempts are foiled, and to his great chagrin, he continues to live. And from that, his relationship with his neighbors blossoms, until he doesn’t attempt to die anymore. He now has a purpose, a reason to keep going, and I liked that it was his newfound “family” that made him stop and continue to live his life.
Quote: “For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”
*Age. Ove is 59. Fifty-nine. I find that really really hard to believe. It is the first sentence in the book, yet by the end of the chapter, I’d already forgotten how old he was, and I assumed that he was in his 70s, close to his 80s. Definitely not 59. I feel like that’s really far-fetched, and not plausible at all.
Quote: “And Ove realised that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.”
I really loved this, I would recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it! I loved the characters, the found-family aspect, and how Ove became such a loving person, despite his outward grumpiness and strict rules. I don’t believe his age to be 59, but that isn’t a big deal for me.
One sentence summary: A heartbreaking, yet funny book with beautiful characters.
Overall, 5 stars
Have you read A Man Called Ove? What did you think? Have you read any other book by Fredrik Backman? What was the last book that made you cry? Chat with me in the comments below!