books, reading

Book Review: A Man Called Ove

I just recently finished A Man Called Oveby Fredrik Backman, and let me tell you, it is not what I expected.

Just from the cover (don’t cringe too much) I could tell that the story had nothing to do with fantasy, adventure or swash-buckling heroes, so, naturally, I wasn’t interested. That being said, it seems to be one of those books one ends up reading eventually, no matter how skilled at aversion one is.

So it seems, so it did.

Eventually, the book wound its way onto my to-read list, and then into my hands, and, because I hate quitting on books, I began reading it, and found myself pleasantly surprised. Here’s a new idea: I like books that have nothing to do with fantasy, adventure, or swash-buckling heroes. Who knew?

The Lowdown

Overall rating: 9/10 (writing style, characters, plot, interest, ending)

Would read again?: oh yes

Recommend to a friend?: definitely

A Man Called Ove is, for lack of a better word, charming. Or maybe that is a better word. Maybe it’s the best word. All I know is that when I was about halfway through the book, all I kept thinking to myself was, “wow, this is really charming.” So it went. And not only that, it is captivating. After all, what’s not to love about a grumpy old man whose life gets invaded by his well-meaning yet totally clueless (or maybe not) neighbors? It was like a really good Hallmark movie – and I mean that in the best way possible (disclaimer: I have not seen the movie, so I can’t tell you if it lived up to its book counterpart or not).

What’s really great about the book is the way the characters are so vivid. I feel like I use that word a lot when I write about books. But I mean it here: the characters are vivid. Even the dead ones seem lifelike. Really.

The plot is clear and clean (I’m not going to tell you what it is, you’ll have to read it to find out) and even though we’re tossed back and forth between present day and the past, it’s obvious which is which through the tense changes, which I personally found enjoyable to read. Also, I want to note that even though the book is funny for the most part, it’s not a laugh-out-loud type of book. There are somber undertones which I think really brings home the overarching message (what is it? I can almost see your eagerness. Well, go read it). This is probably the most compelling aspect of the book.

I also want to point out that there is something so deeply human about the main character, Ove (pronounced Ooooo-vah, for those of you who, like me, aren’t Swedish and have no idea) and this makes him sympathetic even for people who aren’t grumpy old men at the end of their lives. Even though I can’t sympathize with a lot of his actions, his emotions ring true even for someone who is just beginning to explore the outside world. That might just be the best part.

So what do you think?

If you’ve read the book, let me know what you thought about it! (And if you hated it, that’s fine too!) If you haven’t read the book, or if you’ve only watched the move (and movies are good, too, I’m a filmmaker so I get it) maybe go check out the book and tell me what you think. Happy reading everyone!

What should I read next? I’d love to hear from you!

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