A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

By Ekta R. Garg

July 16, 2014

Rated: Bookmark it!

A crotchety old man finds his repeated attempts to commit suicide foiled when his neighbors and community members refuse to let him die in peace. The neighbors and community members don’t exactly intervene in his suicide plans; it’s just that they can’t seem to get anything right. Swedish author Fredrik Backman brings his debut novel, A Man Called Ove, to the West and will entertain and engage readers right to the end with this delightful story.

Ove knows people don’t see things his way, which is a shame because they’re missing out on the right way of life. These days, he surmises, everyone worries more about their newfangled computers and cell phones. People don’t take the time to learn simple things like how to fix household items or how to back a trailer into a driveway.

The latter becomes a serious issue for Ove when a young family moves across the street from him. The husband, a software professional, manages to reverse his trailer right over Ove’s mailbox. Ove can’t believe it. Why can’t everyone just handle their own lives and allow him to die without all the interruptions? Why do people continue with their stupidity?

What starts as “stupidity” slowly turns into the realization that not everyone experiences life as he does—and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. But must he really admit that out loud? Why does the young wife from across the street insist on including him in family events? Ove really doesn’t need anyone to include him in anything…does he?

Fans of the Pixar movie Up definitely need to read this book. If Mr. Fredrickson of the film had stayed in town instead of floating away in his house, A Man Called Ove would show fans an account of the life of a curmudgeonly old man. As much as Ove hates to interact with the general public, the general public eventually starts to love him. Readers will feel exactly the same way long before the end of the book.

Author Fredrik Backman takes a story that feels borrowed from the film and makes it all his own. He constructs in Ove a winning protagonist; every one of Ove’s quirks and complaints about life will have readers either shaking their heads in amusement or groaning at Ove’s insistence in remaining a wet blanket. Every single supporting character in the book fits perfectly within the storyline, enhancing and adding small moments that only those particular characters could. The result becomes a book that will make readers sympathize early on with Ove and tear up for him in the end, especially because Ove needs what everyone else in life does. He just hides that need better than most.

I highly recommend the bookfor Up fans and book lovers alike. If you like a heartwarming story that will keep you smiling days after you finish the book, don’t miss A Man Called Ove.

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