Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove is the hilarious, touching, and infuriating story of an exceptionally grumpy older man – how he came to be so pessimistic and the unexpected neighbors that bring some color into his life.
Ove wakes up every day in a bad mood. In his bad mood, he begins a rigid morning routine of confirming that everything is in place in his housing development. When someone has parked in a 24-hour spot for too long, he reports it; when a bike is strewn lazily outside of the bike locker, he moves it; when there is recycling in the trash bin, he rectifies it. Why can’t everyone just follow the rules?
Ove’s grumpiness is exacerbated by his loneliness. He doesn’t enjoy his life, and he plans to do something about it. But when an unruly family moves in next door and require his attention, his plans go off the rails. In fact, it seems that the entire neighborhood as started taking an interest in him. Can he have no peace and quiet anymore?!
Please take caution while reading A Man Called Ove if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Animal cruelty
- Death / dying
- Pregnancy / childbirth / miscarriages
A Man Called Ove is an exercise in changing your mind about a main character – one that has served me very well. Backman writes Ove as he is – extremely grumpy and, at times, particularly mean – but he never pushes you to dislike Ove; with every turn of events that make you roll your eyes at Ove’s cold resolution, another is just around the corner to soften you to him.
This story is beautiful; it shifts between Ove’s life now and his entire life leading up to his current state. You really get a very clear understanding of this character, more so than most other character-driven books I read. You will know Ove inside and out – if you’re like me – you’ll end up loving him and finding his mean quirks simply a silly part of him.
Ove’s story is set in Sweden, which I think is important for you to understand as you begin the book. Don’t get hung up on the small details that might not make perfect sense if you’re not Swedish (which doesn’t happen often, but I definitely had to look up the word “kroner”); instead, enjoy the ride through Ove’s life for what it is – one that is heartbreaking, hopeful, and full of love. I genuinely wept at the end of the novel; that’s how moving it is.
If you’re a lover of character-driven narratives, I highly recommend this novel to you. Hell, even if you’re not, you should definitely still read it. There is a clear plot, and a lot happens – particularly in his life leading up to present day. Ove is a character and a story that I won’t soon forget.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on A Man Called Ove. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!