Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
George Newbern (Narrator)
Audiobook, Duration: 09:09:29 
Published May 8th, 2014 by Dreamscape Media, LLC
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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 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 residents' association to their very foundations.

My thoughts…
“She just smiled, said that she loved books more than anything, and started telling him excitedly what each of the ones in her lap was about. And Ove realised that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.” Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Ove struggles each day to cope with the pain of losing his beloved wife Sonja. She was the only person to fully understand him. Ove is opinionated, cantankerous and completely set in his ways and Sonja still loved him. He lived his life to please her and now she is gone. This leaves Ove with nothing and he doesn't know what to do without her by his side. He misses his wife greatly and doesn't think he has much to live for. All he wants is to be reunited with Sonja, by committing suicide. The neighbors in his community will not leave him alone long enough to do it.
“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
Ove believes rules and regulations are of the greatest importance, he is always right, and see’s the world filled with stupid people doing stupid things. Case in point... when his new neighbor fails to back a trailer towards the house it draws Ove’s attention. Not only because vehicles are not allowed in that area, but the new resident destroys Ove’s property. This is only the first of many hilarious interactions to come.

Ove’s quiet life is overturned by the pregnant talkative neighbor and her family who insert themselves into his house and his life with selfish disregard for his needs. Ove is constantly coming to the rescue of his newest neighbors and old friends. He was needed by people and kept putting off his plans to end his life, he felt wanted again.

“Now you listen to me," says Ove calmly while he carefully closes the door. "You've given birth to two children and quite soon will be squeezing out a third. You've come here from a land far away and most likely you fled war and persecution and all sorts of other nonsense. You've learned a new language and got yourself an education and you're holding together a family of obvious incompetents. And I'll be damned if I've seen you afraid of a single bloody thing in this world before now....I'm not asking for brain surgery. I'm asking you to drive a car. It's got an accelerator, a brake and a clutch. Some of the greatest twits in world history have sorted out how it works. And you will as well." And then he utters seven words, which Parvaneh will always remember as the loveliest compliment he'll ever give her. "Because you are not a complete twit.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

We are given glimpses of Ove's past, experiencing the love he has for Sonja and the events that shaped him into the man he became. Beneath Ove’s toughened exterior is a story of heartbreak, disappointment, and tragedy. One of the things I loved about this book is that serious situations end up hilarious and then pull at your heart strings. Overall, A Man Called Ove is a fantastic story.
“We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if'.”
Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Happy Reading -J


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