Author: Fredrick Backman
Genre: Contemporary Drama
Synopsis: This book is an emotionally charged drama, telling the story of an older man called Ove. His life is detailed both past and present. Ove is specific, organized, honest, predictable, and extremely grumpy. He thinks everyone around him is incompetent, he finds faults in almost everything everyone around him does and says. He is easily irritated. He hates cats, people in suits, people who cannot use their hands to perform daily housework repairs, store clerks, and that is just naming a few. In general, he dislikes all his neighbors. However, this is only one side of Ove. Ove is also a loving husband, an honest co-worker, and a hardworking employee. He will put himself in jeopardy rather than risk ratting out a fellow employee who he knows is guilty.
Ove has had enough of life, and is ready to move on, but suddenly, one day, when a pregnant woman with 2 kids and a husband that Ove does not care for much, moves in next door, his plans change, and his life is forever altered.
My Review: I really liked this book, and I had so many emotions while reading this story. I started off laughing within the first few pages, and then cried, and then laughed some more, and cried again. This was the cycle with this book from start to finish. Its emotional beyond anything I have read lately. It’s sad, and funny all at the same time. I both laughed, and was irritated over the same situations that Ove gets himself into.
Needless to say that I loved and was bothered by some aspects of this book.
The story jumps around a lot between past and present with no clear indication of where in the time line you are in while reading, but the time-frame is made clear in each chapter fairly quickly, regardless of the lack of disclosure in the chapter titles.
I especially enjoyed the stories of Ove’s past, his life as a little boy with his dad and then later as a teenager. The stories of the past helped for me anyway to shape his character for the preset. The past stories, allow the reader to get to know Ove well, form a kindness and compassion towards him, and provides the reader insight into the type of man Ove later becomes. There was a good balance between past and present. Had the book been written specificity in the present day, it would not have had the same allure and compassion from me. The past stories are important to really get to know the younger Ove. This helped to soften my opinion of him later as the story progresses.
While I loved the book and the story, I had issues with Ove himself as a character in present time. I loved the Ove of the past, however I was not feeling that love in the present day at first. For example: Ove’s strong dislike for cats in the beginning for one thing frustrated me, as I kept thinking about how upset my son would be if he had read the passage about Ove being mean to the cat. I also felt bad at the scene where he inadvertently, but nonetheless still gives a pregnant woman a bleeding nose, and then gives her a hard time when she needs a ride to the hospital! Those scenes hit something inside of me that really upset me, but it did not deter at all from my love of the book in general. It’s odd that I both connected deeply with Ove and still had issues with him. I suppose I felt sorry for him, and for all that he has endured in his lifetime, and that really sums up my opinion of Ove.
Now that I have finished the book, and I really think about how it has made me feel, I truly believe that it is the negative aspects of Ove that allowed me to fully enjoy the book. Had Ove simply been a sweet, lovely, caring old man, the story would not have been as interesting.
I don’t feel like any of the other secondary characters were very prevalent, and as a result, I did not connect with anyone else (except for possibly the poor cat). The other characters were simply just put there to help tell the story and shape Ove’s character. I would have liked to have had at least one other character that was more significant throughout, but then again this is the story of A Man Called Ove!
I did feel that the story dragged a bit in some chapters, and it was primarily with the present-day stories more so than the retelling of Ove’s past. I wanted more of a quicker pace to help move things along faster.
The ending was not predictable at all, and I was grateful for this. I truly loved the ending, I thought it was appropriate. I cried a lot as well, as the book wrapped up.
Closing Thoughts: In summary, I enjoyed this read. I think the author did a fantastic job of creating a main character that has many flaws but still well liked, and one that contributes to the overall satisfaction and enjoyment of this book. Nobody is perfect, but they can still be remarkable! Ove is a true representation of that statement!
Overall the book was well written, and the story of Ove’s life is beautifully shared with the reader.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an emotional drama that will bring you both laughter, and tears constantly throughout.
Feel free to comment and tell me if you have read this book, and what your thoughts are.