“Ove stomped forward. The cat stood up. Ove stopped. They stood there measuring up to each other for a few moments, like two potential troublemakers in a small-town bar. Ove considered throwing one of his clogs at it. The cat looked as if it regretted not bringing its own clogs to lob back.” – Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
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.
Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.33/5 stars
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Background. This book follows a man called Ove in modern-day Sweden. Ove recently lost his wife and to everyone on the outside he looks like the classic grumpy old man that has nothing better to do with his days than inspect the neighborhood for any unsavory actions, such as driving in the residential area when there is clearly a sign that says “No driving in the residential area.” This story really begins when a younger, pregnant couple move into the house across the way from Ove and while driving in the residential area back over Ove’s mailbox with their moving truck. They handle Ove’s grouchiness surprisingly well and slowly entwine themselves into Ove’s life. This is really inconvenient for Ove because he is trying to commit suicide. He has finally gotten to the point in his widowed life and decides that he just wants to be with Sonja again.
Pros. Ok, so let me say that any scene with the cat in it immediately became my favorite parts. See the quote at the top of this review? That is just one instance of a beautiful scene involving Ove and the Cat Annoyance. I have never laughed as hard reading a book as I did with the cat scene after the vet. This is just one of the beautiful ways that Backman really made this book come alive. These characters (yes, even the cat) were just phenomenal. I really felt connected to each and every one of them. I loved how we got to see small glimpses into their lives–through Ove’s eyes of all people–and were still able to see how important and necessary each of those characters were to the plot.
Ove’s character development was something of note as well. I loved getting glimpses into his whole life; before, during and after Sonja. There were so many times throughout the book that Ove compared himself as black and white and Sonja as an explosion of color in his black and white life. Getting to see that comparison come back into Ove’s life with Parvaneh and her family gave so much to this story. The extended family that Ove gained after Sonja’s death was so important to him and it was a unique experience to see him go from suicidal to content to truly happy with his current situation. Ove was put into situations that made him so uncomfortable or angry and was still able to come out on top of everything.
The relationships in this book really gave the book life as well. If Parvaneh and Ove didn’t have their back and forth banter or if Ove and Rune never made up this book would have just felt like something was missing. Each relationship brought something enormous to the table and really made this book become the outstanding story that it did.
Cons. I did get kind of sick of the repetition of the book at certain points. I don’t even know how many times we heard about Rune and Ove’s falling out. I get that it was necessary in order to understand the importance of Ove overcoming his bitterness and finally agreeing to help Anita and Rune in the end, but at some points it felt like it was repeated way too much.
Overall. This book was amazing and I love it and I see why everyone loves it so much. This book made me laugh so hard that I cried and it also made me just sob as well. This book has everything going for it and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I cannot wait to see the movie now. 5/5 stars!