Sunday, May 14, 2017

Book Review - A Man Called Ove - by Fredrik Backman

" A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman book cover

" She just smiled and 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 realized that he wanted to hear her talking about all the things she loved for the rest of his life." - A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

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.

Wonderful message at heart

I think what will stick with me the longest when I remember "A Man Called Ove" is the wonderful messages it contained regarding the importance of community. Ove and his neighbors make immeasurable impacts on each other by simply showing support and being involved. Ove's grief over the death of his wife is so great that he attempts several times during the book to commit suicide- all of which are thwarted when someone unwittingly interrupts him. Had his neighbors stayed away and not inserted themselves into his life, Ove would likely have been successful. And Ove, though disgruntled, goes above and beyond to be attentive to his neighborhood. All of these individuals lives could have been lived without interacting with each other, but it is easy to see in "A Man Called Ove" the enormous benefits that come from the community. I do not consider myself to be a very good neighbor. While I live in a very friendly neighborhood,  I couldn't tell you the names of but a few of the people on my street. And undoubtedly there are several people near me who could use the same types of help that are shown in "Ove". What's better than a book that makes you want to step out of your comfort zone to go out and seek opportunities to help others?

Breathtaking Writing

Oh my goodness, Fredrick Backman's writing is just above and beyond in "A Man Called Ove"! From the start, I really struggled with Ove as a main character, which I will discuss below- but the beautiful writing in this book, especially with regards to Ove and his wife, Sonja- just blew me away. Since I am a "girl about library" and do not keep very many of the books that I read, I like to write down quotes from books- it gives me a feeling like I'm keeping the part of the book I most enjoyed. A good book will give me a full page of quotes, I had two and a half pages from "A Man Called Ove"! I absolutely love the quote from the beginning of the blog post, and here are two more of my favorites:

"Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would've answered that he didn't" - A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

"But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don't share it there's a good chance that it will drive them apart instead." - A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

Things I Struggled With

I gave "A Man Called Ove" five stars, so to say that I struggled with anything is a little difficult. The only thing that gave me pause when reading was Ove himself. I am not a fan of grumpy people- never have been, never will be. I'm a fairly sensitive person, and grumpy people send up my guard real quick. Ove seems to live by the idea that no matter how disgruntled and put upon he seems to be doing a task, as long as he does it - that's all that should matter. And I just fundamentally disagree with that idea. Do all of the good you want, but if you do it with a grumpy attitude- it isn't the same as doing it with a smile. Smiles and grace when helping others matter for example making the difference between feeling like a burden or not. While my goal is always to imagine others complexly, and I understand why Ove is grumpy at times - he still is someone who I would struggle to like in real life, just as I struggled with it while reading.

Have you read A Man Called Ove? Let me know below in the comments what you thought of the book! I would love to chat with you about it? Did you have a favorite quote from the book that I left out? Thinking about reading this book? Click here to find a copy at your local library or click the image of the cover below to view the book on Amazon.


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