A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Atria books, 2014. 253 pages. *****
Ove is a curmudgeon of the first order. He doesn't understand why people don't follow the rules. He distrusts most people and wishes everyone would leave him alone especially the needy neighbors with their chatty little girls. Ove can't understand how his life turned out the way it did and he has little sympathy for those who rely on others to fix their problems.
I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. I traveled last month and it seemed like either people were carrying it or the book was front and center at the airport newsstands. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed out loud and cried. (I'm not an easy crier) Having recently read The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg, I thought I knew where the story was headed and it did in some ways, but there were enough subplots to keep me interested. I read this one for me (I didn't receive a review copy) and finished it in two days. When you reach a certain age, we all know a person like Ove and I definitely am that age. There are so many levels to this story -- it's a love story between two unlikely people; a commentary on growing old and feeling useless; societal norms and expectations and the irony of life goes on whether we want it to or not. I saw some negative reviews and I can understand why not everyone can relate to Ove. I'm sure someone younger may read it and think that isn't going to happen to them and it may not. There is a certain sadness to growing old and Bette Davis and Ove remind us that "Old age ain't for sissies." I've placed Backman's latest book, Britt-Marie Was Here, on hold at my public library and look forward to reading it.
Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. His latest novel is Britt-Marie Was Here. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.