Monday, February 16, 2015

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

Genre: Fiction

Summary (from Goodreads): In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, 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.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

Review: This is not the kind of book I would have ordinarily picked up, but I got it as a "blind date" from the library last week, and I'm so glad I did!  The main character is a curmudgeonly 59 year old Swedish man who seems to dislike everybody and everything and has no compunction about expressing his dislike to the reader and everyone he meets.  This is not the type of character I generally like to read about, but some of his observations are hilariously spot on; I especially laughed at the smug middle-aged jogger dressed like a Romanian gymnast.  As the reader learns more about Ove, we discover that underneath his crusty exterior is a heart of gold, and I loved seeing his friendships grow despite his best efforts.  At times sad, but often funny, this feel good story was a delight to read.

Rating: 5 stars

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