A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

It has taken me months to get this book checked out of the library. It is so popular, the library gives only a 14-day loan period rather than the normal three weeks. But you really don’t need a 14-day loan period. I read it in 10 hours. It’s that good.

It’s not only a page turner but it grabs at your heart strings and it tugs and then it tugs some more. This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Not just tears swimming in your eye, cry, but cry cry. In short, SOB. I was full on blubbering mess when I finished it. It is one of those books that stays with you long after you finished reading it. It is a book that is a must on my at-home library shelf.

That why I give it five stars.

In short, the book is about a grumpy old man who everyone thinks they have figured out. He has his set routine, which gets unexpectedly disrupted when he gets new neighbors. According to the book jackets, “What follows is a heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unlikely friendships and a community’s unexpected reassessment of the one person they thought they had all figured out.” But that description is putting it lightly. I can’t say more without giving anything away and I want the next reader to feel the same emotion I felt upon discovering why Ove is the way he is.

Essentially this book reaffirms that everyone has a story and the we shouldn’t judge someone just by how they act or look on the outside. And maybe it’s because I  grew up around elderly people my whole life that this book struck home.

Upon making my confirmation, one of the requirements was that we had to do a certain number of community service. I decided to do mine at the local senior center where seniors came to hang out and have lunch.

There is one thing I learned and that is most older people are grumpy or difficult simply because they are lonely. They don’t hear from their kids anymore, their spouses have passed and they no one or nothing to share their life with. I realized this with the females, who would sit and reminisce about the “good ole days,” telling me stories about when they were young. I learned this with the men, some like Ove, who after showing them some patience, they cracked. I got so entrusted into their group that the men begged me to join their poker game, even though it was against the rules, mainly because I was underage and the nun, who was the director, disapproved.

Ove is such a enlightening character. Yes he is difficult and grumpy, definitely set in his ways but you can’t help but love him in the end. You learn early on it’s just a facade and that he is truly warmhearted and caring. He is also very sarcastic and very funny.

In Chapter 3, Ove’s new neighbors just backed up their trailer into his mailbox and he is flipping out. He tells the driver  – who Ove describes as the “Lanky One” – to get out of the car so he can do it, all the while muttering.

“Holy Christ. A lower-arm amputee with cataracts could have backed this trailer more accurately than you.” Ove mutters.

This made me laugh out loud and there are a variety of similar passages throughout the book as time after time, someone or something interrupts Ove’s routine.

I also like the neighbor Parvaneh because she doesn’t take his crap. She breaks through that crusty wall he has built up until its a pile of rubble in the end. I think when she finds out his secret, Parvaneh is more determined to help him find his way back.

There are so many other characters in this book, many of whom help Ove see that while he has lost a lot in his life, he gained so much. Mainly a new family.

All the way to the end, this book has you guessing. What happens in the final chapter, while expected, is so unexpected. It’s  not what happens but how it happens and its a complete heart tugger. It’s what did me in in the end.

This book made me want to turn back to the beginning and make me want to start reading it all over again. I haven’t read a book like that in a long time. It’s refreshing.

 

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