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.
My Review – 5 stars
I LOVED this book❣️ It was funny, touching, endearing, sad and “laugh out loud” hilarious. I adored Ove from the start even though he was clearly a “grumpy old man,” albeit only 59. Backman did a phenomenal job developing all the characters, even the neighborhood cat. The cat seemed to be symbolic of Ove’s deceased wife. It made me think the book was heading in a different direction but it remained a simple story with great depth. This book was all about the characters and not so much about the plot. The characters made me want to keep reading. This is one of the few books I wanted to keep reading but for the sake of the journey, not the ending. I wasn’t even curious about the ending. I enjoyed witnessing a re-awakening of Ove’s soul which brought about a tremendous feeling of hope.
My Favorite Quotes:
“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the greatest motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”
“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”
“And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories, perhaps.”
“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”
“One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else’s future. And it wasn’t as if Ove also died when Sonja left him. He just stopped living.”
I enjoy books that make me laugh and cry and this was a perfect combination of both. But it wasn’t a sad kind of cry. It was a cry for the heartwarming feelings it brought. This book also made me think more about the value of personal relationships and how some people take for granted the relationships in their life. A Man Called Ove is a must read!