A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Best for: I don’t know. Everyone?
In a nutshell: A man’s suicide attempts are repeatedly foiled by his incompetent neighbors.
Line that sticks with me: “Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”
Why I chose it: I found myself in a a bookstore and saw that this was on sale. I figured it was finally time to check it out.
Review: Some very mild, non-specific spoilers follow.
Two novels in a row, both dealing with the issue of loss in very different ways. The book follows Ove, a 59-year-old man who has just been sent home for early retirement. He is a deliberate, regimented man who believes in things that you can see and touch. He builds homes and works on cars. He takes a daily inspection walk throughout his little housing community to make sure no rules are being broken. He’s basically “get off my lawn,” come to life.
Ove is also a young man, growing up and meeting the love of his life, Sonja. To tell this story, and to give the readers an understanding of how Ove came to be, nearly every other chapter is some sort of chronological flashback to his past. Through this we learn why he doesn’t trust the people from the government, and how his life experiences have led him to where his is today.
Once I realized what this book was about, I was a little worried to be consuming yet more media about a cantankerous old white man. But man, was it worth it. I think that what I loved most about this book is how I don’t really feel like the total personality of Ove changes by the end. Yes, there are definitely some different actions, but it’s not as though he starts as this regimented man and then ends up throwing all the rules out the window. He just manages to find some new motivation in his life that still (mostly) fits with how he wants to live it. By the end of the book I found that I hadn’t laughed nearly as much as the blurbs seemed to suggest I would, but that I did feel a whole range of emotions deeply.