Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ~ Book Review

Ove is a 59 year old man whom everyone thinks is the grumpiest person you would ever meet.  He likes his order and he lives by principal.  He believes strongly in things in a world where right just had to be right, a very black and white world, according to him.  He lives by the rules and there is not a smidge of bending them.  His beloved father instilled principles in him after all and he has lived his whole life this way, and there is no reason to change now.  And part of that order is setting himself up as the "gatekeeper" of his neighborhood association, looking over the neighborhood and making sure it's safe and no one breaks any "rules".  But Ove gets a huge shakeup to his orderly world when new neighbors move into his neighborhood.  They are chatty, she is foreign and pregnant, he doesn't know how to fix anything and they have noisy kids.  Another thing to grump about in his orderly world.  But they aren't just next door, they are in his face and trying to invade his world with cheerfulness and friendship and all he wants is to be left alone so he can carry out his plans.

This book came highly recommended by the lady at Indigo/Chapters when my daughter and I were on a book buying splurge there this spring.  It was originally written in Swedish but has now been translated into, I think I read somewhere, 25 languages.  It's popularity has basically been word of mouth.  Seeing one of the goals on my 2015 reading challenge was to read a book originally written in another language, this fit the bill.  I'm so glad I got it.  Though when I first started reading it I did wonder.  Ove is introduced as such an unlikeable, angry curmudgeon of a character...and I already had people like that in my life...did I really want to read a story of one?  But there was something so appealing about this story as layer by layer Ove's history is revealed and his exuberant new neighbor looks beyond the grumpy to find the heart of the man.  As Ove tries to bring his plans for his life to fruition something always happens to interrupt him and he faces choices and putting off those plans.  It turned into a wonderful story of looking beyond first impressions, of reaching out to others, of lending a hand and of life just being better when others are allowed in.  I laughed and cried my way through this whole book, sometimes at the same time, which an author has never been able to accomplish with me before.  The writing is quirky, different and charming starting with the chapter titles and carries on throughout the story and I don't think anything was lost in the translation at all.  Ove's story really made me look at my own life and what areas I am so rigid and closed off in (I tend to be a natural rule follower so this really woke me up to that) and how I need to open up to others more and enjoy those God places in front of me.

I gave this book a 10/10 for it's heart-warming look at sharing life with others and exploring how we all have something to offer and for the sheer enjoyment of the read.

Reading Challenge 2015 goals met:  A book originally written in another language, a book a friend recommended (ok the lady at the store is not my friend but it was still a recommendation), a book set in a different country, a book set somewhere I've always wanted to visit (Sweden),  a funny book, a book that made me cry, a book by an author I've never read before,


Karen said...

This was one of my favorite reads of 2015, the other being "Ordinary Grace" by William Krueger. I loved reading this review and revisiting Ove's story!

Deb J. in Utah said...

Sounds like a story I would enjoy. I will be looking for this one. Thanks for the review!

Barbara H. said...

I keep seeing this pop up in various places. Thanks for the review! I'm putting it on my TBR list.

Faith said...

I was wondering about this book!! and i've always wanted to visit (or LIVE!) in Sweden, too. I just started one written (and set) in Denmark. SOOO GOOD. I had to put aside (and i won't be returning to it) the Adirondack mystery book that was on my side bar all last week and this week....UGH! SO badly written. i was hugely disappointed as the setting is where I hike! but the author got so many things wrong about the area that it just bugged me AND the plot was so dull and predictable. I am not even doing a book review.....i made it half way and nothing is happening........ugh.