It took me a while to get through this book but I’m finding that some books just need to be absorbed slowly, like a hot beverage.
This book was about a lot of things – a bank robbery, a hostage situation, a bridge – but mostly, it was about people. People who are just trying to live each day the best they can, given the hand that life dealt them.
We meet several individuals at an apartment viewing and at first glance, they are all there for one purpose – to buy an apartment. Yet, as the story unfolds, we learn that the why is the more important part, because each one has their own story. Most of all, each one is dealing with their own anxiety about those situations, whether it’s being along after years of being with a significant other, making sure everything is ready for a child, paying the bills, or even feeling that we matter.
Each person has this internal struggle even as they go through a hostage situation, which is not your standard hostage situation. But through it, they realize that none of these things matter because as long as they simply try, they are not alone. They learn that somewhere out there, someone else is going through the same thing or something even worse – enough to make them think they have no way out and they end up jumping off a bridge – not realizing that their actions will inadvertently affect others. There are ways to overcome any situation and we can help others by understanding.
Yet, while this book was a hodge podge of different characters and different plots, Backman is brilliant in how he weaves all of them together. It reminded me of a line that I have used a hundred times when I run into someone or find out they know someone that I have known for years – “What a small world.” The constant twist and turns in this book were delightful and in true Backman form, the ending was bittersweet. I found myself with tears in my eyes and hugging this book, wishing I could give those characters a hug in turn.