Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: A Man Called Ove

Summary: 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. -- Atria

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked up my copy of A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman. I had seen a lot of buzz surrounding this novel, but I didn't even read the book's entire description. What I did manage to catch were the words "bestselling and delightfully quirky novel," and that was enough for me!

I'm having a difficult time summing up A MAN CALLED OVE because it truly is unlike any book I've ever read. There is absolutely no way for me to convey just how much of a delight this novel was to read. I laughed (a lot!) and I also teared up a few times. Mainly, I fell in love with Ove and all of his quirky ways. If you can't tell, I adored this novel, and it's one of those books that I want to put in the hands of all of my family and friends.

Ove a kind of a grumpy pants that lives a very structured life. I imagine he's difficult for his neighbors to like (and that's a nice way to say it!) He takes regular morning walks and notes every little detail that isn't in accordance with his homeowner rules. However, Ove also has a sadness about him that explains a lot.

One day, a couple with young children moves next door to Ove and turns his world upside-down. It all begins when they knock over his mailbox when they pulled up their trailer... in an area that cars are not allowed to go. Naturally, this sets Ove off! But the woman and her daughters manage to break through Ove's rough facade and show the kindness that really exists inside the man!

I loved, loved, loved A MAN CALLED OVE! I devoured this novel in just a few hours and I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. This book just made me feel good about life and people in general, and I felt as if the entire book was so original. I am not alone in my praise. A MAN CALLED OVE has been getting rave reviews along with starred ones from most major publications.

One of the things that really stood out to me was the character of Ove -- although there were many fantastic characters in this novel. Ove is a piece of work and not entirely what he seems. (You might see a lesson in here about judging people based on first impressions!) Ove was so odd that I had to laugh (although I'm not sure I'd have wanted him as a neighbor for much of the story), and I loved getting inside his mind and seeing how he eventually mellowed with the help of a few friends.

Ove's story goes back and forth between the present and his past, thereby allowing the reader to really get to know Ove... and also love him! His past was difficult and there is no doubt that he had his fair share of heartache. However, once his neighbors decided to develop a friendship with him, he began to see himself in an entirely new light. He understood the true meaning of family and friendship, and his good deeds began to outweigh his quirky ones. Do I even need to say how touching this was???

A MAN CALLED OVE would make a fantastic book club selection, especially if your group is looking for something a little different. There is a reading guide available with seventeen questions as well as some ideas for how to enhance your meeting. Of course, you will want to examine love, loss, and grief because Ove illustrates these themes so well. However, some other themes you might talk about include friendship, family, second chances, order, routine, prejudices, and rebirth.

I loved A MAN CALLED OVE and I hope I've convinced you that it's a must-read! Ever so highly recommended!


bermudaonion said...

I've got this on my iPad and just forget about it when I pick up a new book. It sounds like I need to get to it soon!

Beth Hoffman said...

I loved this book, too!

Becca Lostinbooks said...

When you read the summary and you get to the end, it's like, it's a feel-good story? Interesting! My interest is piqued.

Laurie C said...

I just posted my review and linked to yours today. I really enjoyed A Man Called Ove, too.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Our book club is discussing this book tonight and I found your review to look up ideas for good discussion questions. Thanks Julie!