Book Review: 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?
From A Man Called Ove Goodreads page

A Man Called Ove was our book club read, as chosen by Alli as “a book she’s always wanted to read”. I’d never heard of it before.

Alli, thank you so much for bringing this book into my life.

It’s a beautiful book. A comedic story about grief and loss, and friendship. I could be laughing and crying on the same page. There were moments that were properly laugh out loud funny; Backman’s use of retorts and anthropomorphism were exactly my kind of humour. Ove’s interactions with the cat are possibly my favourite parts of the book.
And conversely there were moments of such wonderful poignancy; little moments, a phrase, which would paint the whole passage in a new light, momentarily blinding you.

The story grabbed me straight away. I don’t tend to delve too much into plot points in my reviews, but I’ll make an exception; the story opens with Ove trying to buy a computer. Innocuous enough, but it was exactly the kind of conversation I have with my own father about technology. And I could absolutely sympathise with Ove and his inability to grasp modern technology’s language… But I have also been a shop assistant (and a daughter) trying to work out what it is exactly the other (older) person is requiring.
And so I was hooked.

Backman is a very economical writer; nothing is wasted, every word and scene has a purpose in the narrative. Much like Ove himself, nothing is superfluous. The narrative is split between the present day and Ove’s past, with the little dips into his past serving to explain his different personality traits. A friend in our book club confessed she couldn’t stand him to begin with, but it was the little morsels of background information that brought her round. You’re given these little jigsaw pieces piece by piece until suddenly you have a wonderfully complex picture that is completely different to the one on the box.

Again, I don’t want to discuss the plot; there is much I could give away with just insinuations and it would change the story for you. But it’s the kind of story that makes you question your perceptions, it made me think about how I perceive others. It was a wonderful commentary on the different languages the different generations speak; a commentary on relationships and how they build and crumble.

Recommended if you enjoy stories of growth and in-depth character portrayals (and if you need a damn good cry).

Wouldn’t recommend if you usually like a bit of action in your books, even I felt it was beginning to drag at one point (but if you do feel this, keep at it because that end is totally worth it. Like I said, everything in this book is written for a reason).

A Man Called Ove is available on Book Depository.
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