Book Reviews

A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman
Published Date: July 2004
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Number of Pages: 337
Stars: 3

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

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.

I started this book once, then abandon it. After hearing all the rave reviews (peer pressure!), I decided to give it another shot, and I’m glad I did. It started out slow for me though, with Ove meandering around his neighborhood, taking on this self-imposed role of neighborhood watchman. It didn’t take me long though to realize that this book is about so much more. It’s a very heartwarming story about an odd and cantankerous man named Ove. He’s the type of man who puts newspapers down on his car seats before passengers get in! He misses his wife tremendously – the only person in his life who he believed really understood him. Without her, all he wants to do now is to be left alone to die, but his neighbors keep getting in the way, to his great annoyance.

It’s a beautiful love story at it’s core. It’s also about grief, and dying, and how we cope, or maybe don’t cope with losing a loved one, but ultimately this book is about living! About finding friendship and love in unexpected places. Ove eventually comes to realize that life may be worth living after all.

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