A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

Back my popular demand (or on my own accord…as I’m not all that popular) with a book review for you!

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, 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.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. (Goodreads)

I picked this book up because I didn’t know what to read and as I have Amazon Prime I could download it for free on my Kindle. I started it and whizzed through it in no time at all. I found this book incredibly easy to read and so enjoyable that I was almost sad when it finished.

This book follows Ove in the present (as a 59 year old) while dotting back chapter to chapter to his past, recounting memories and experiences from his childhood, work life and meeting his wife. I really enjoyed the insights into Ove’s past that were interspersed through the book as it gave context to the way that Ove behaves and acts and feels as an older man.

This book deals with several issues that I find interesting and puts a spin on them. I won’t explain how it does this, but it discusses grief, bereavement, ageing, change, acceptance, deterioration, family, what constitutes a family and suicide, while still managing to be uplifting and at times very funny. There were moments in this book where I burst out laughing, and others where I needed tissues because I was sobbing.

I loved Ove as a character. He reminded me of character’s like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, in that he appears to be a grumpy and mean individual. However as the book progresses and we learn more of Ove’s past and we see him living his day to day life, he becomes lovable and we realise he is far more complex than what he seems. I love books from perspectives distant from my own, and so I welcome books like A Man Called Ove.

In summary, this book was funny, charming, heartwarming and emotive. It was incredibly well written, and the messages within gave me a lot to think about. My most important take away from this book was to never underestimate the impact you may have on somebody else’s life, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant. I would thoroughly recommend this if you want an easy read, or one that’ll make you smile, laugh, sob and feel uplifted. Enjoy!

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