Gosh it’s been a while since I’ve posted here! I’ve been so busy with school and just life in general that I haven’t had time to blog! I know this review is coming in a bit late, but I wanted to cram in the rest of the book so I could write a complete review instead of only telling you all about the 4/5 of the book I managed to finish within the month. I’m not a very fast reader, and considering how busy I’ve been I’m pretty proud that I even got that much read! It’s a testament to how wonderful I found this book to be.
I wanted to make this both a review and a bit of a summary of the book, so be warned that this review will have some spoilers! You should also be aware that this book has multiple instances of attempted suicide and discusses someone having a miscarriage, which will also be discussed in this review.
This month I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This book is about an old man named Ove who is extremely judgmental of everyone and has strict expectations for the way things should be. His general attitude is that no one knows how to do anything properly, technology is making people lazy, and nobody works hard enough to be a respectable person. These views, as you could imagine, cause Ove to be a bit short and nasty with his neighbors. Nothing gets Ove in a tizzy like someone not following the neighborhood rules (all set by him, naturally).
Something that caught me a bit off guard and really broke my heart was that within the first few chapters, we find out that Ove is planning to end his life. Before this, I really didn’t like Ove. He reminded me of all the people you hear about who think young people are lazy and aren’t working hard, which rubs me the wrong way as a 21-year-old college student. Once we find out that he no longer wants to live, the depth of his story unfolds and I quickly fell in love with Ove and his life.
Ove lost both of his parents early on in his life, which made him grow up and become independent and self-sufficient very quickly. His passion was construction work and planning houses, so that is what he devoted his life to. Ove’s father taught him the meaning of his words, and consequently he never spoke much. He dedicated himself to working hard and being an honest man. This didn’t leave much room in Ove’s heart for lightheartedness, until Sonja came along. Sonja made Ove happy and helped open up his mind a little bit to the rest of the world. They quickly fell in love, and the chapters that discuss their relationship were some of my favorites in the whole book.
Two main tragedies shape Ove and give us insight to why he is how he is: an accident that put his wife in a wheelchair and killed their unborn child, and the death of his wife years later. Not having Sonja is ultimately what makes Ove wish to kill himself. Life didn’t seem worth living anymore without her by his side.
That’s where all of Ove’s neighbors come in. While suicide is very serious, I couldn’t help smile and become a bit amused as each of Ove’s attempts were interrupted by a neighbor coming to say hi or ask him for help. He could never seem to find the peace he was searching for, and thus became perpetually annoyed with all of his neighbors. However hard he tried to push them away, they all seemed amused by his curmudgeonly behavior and grew fond of the old man. And, despite his efforts, Ove grows fond of them, too.
By the end of the book, Ove has (begrudgingly) opened his heart up to the people in his life. He wouldn’t admit it, but he had grown to enjoy his annoying, nosy neighbors, and they had become family to him. Ove’s story ends with us learning that he has an enlarged heart, and finally with him passing away. Books don’t normally make me emotional, but I had to STRUGGLE not to burst into tears reading the last chapter and the epilogue.
A Man Called Ove was an entertaining read, and touched a lot on the fact that everyone is shaped by their life experiences. Ove may seem like a grouchy old man, but with each chapter it becomes more clear that he is a product of his circumstances, and doing the best he can with the life he was given. I absolutely loved reading this book and would highly recommend it! (Even though I’ve probably spoiled a lot of it in this review.)
If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought of it! I’ll be posting my choice for March here shortly!