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A Review of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a delightfully brilliant story about a man called Jack. Ok, I’m kidding. It’s about a man called Ove. This is one of those books I grabbed while I was out in Denver at the Tattered Cover Bookstore. I almost didn’t get it because it didn’t sound like my kind of book. I saw a cat on the cover and I thought, maybe… and then I read the back of the book and thought Oh, God. I’m Ove! I must read this!
Well it took me literally seven months to getting around to reading this. I hope Mr. Backman doesn’t take it personally (I am in graduate school after all, and I had a crazy 2015). I finally got around to reading this and quite frankly – this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.
The story follows Ove, a grumpy old man, who tries to kill himself, but he’s really bad at it. Every time he tries to kill himself, his neighbors always interrupt him. The only reason he wants to kill himself is because he misses his deceased wife. That, in and of itself, speaks to romantic in me. The more the reader gets to know Ove, the more we realize that he has a heart of gold and end the end… well… I’m not going to spoil it for you.
I will say though that what really got me was Ove’s tenderness to the cat. I’ve always felt that you can tell a lot about a person the way they treat animals, and Ove really pulled through for me.
Backman is brilliant with this book. It’s quiet (what is with me and quiet books lately?) but it is so funny. There were a few times it made me laugh out loud. The opening scene, with Ove in the computer shop, was so funny because I have seen grumpy old men do that at the apple store.
Let’s start out by the weakness of this book. There’s only one.
I struggled with finding out where in the world this book took place. I wasn’t sure if it was in Sweden, England, France, The United States, it was a struggle. But, that’s not a bad thing. I’m sure I glanced over it, but it wasn’t crystal clear at first and I was a little lost.
Where do I begin? The characterization of Ove was by far one of the best things I’ve ever read. He’s a grumpy old man, but his life is that of the strong silent type. He wants things done the proper way and God forbid you drive anything other than a Saab. He values loyalty, he loved his wife a lot, and we find that he is far more accepting than one might think. Ove is a good guy. My favorite thing is that he names everybody – like Blond Weed, Lanky One, Tattoo Neck… the list goes on and it’s so funny.
Paravaugnah (spelling?) is a beautiful character too, because we see her as a woman much like Ove’s deceased wife. Full of life, pushing for the right thing, and dependent on the old man. In fact, she just doesn’t leave the poor guy alone.
I also really loved how vivid the story was. I could see Ove, his neighbors, the cat and the the white shirts. I could see the surroundings (once I figured out where we were on the map), and the I could see and feel the snow on Sonja’s grave, the smell of freshly oiled wood, the smell of exhaust… it was really beautiful.
All in all, this book was a delight and a surprise. This man who was a grumpy old man, and we find out why in the book (again, no spoilers), will have you laughing with delight, crying and even at times face palming.
Grab it while you can, and yes, I am looking forward to reading Brickman’s next book!