A Man Called Ove (and a girl named Alex) REVIEW + INTRO

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A MAN CALLED OVE
by FREDRIK BACKMAN
Published: July 15th 2014 by Atria Books (Originally published 2012 as En man som heter Ove by Forum)
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Humor, Swedish Literature
Pages: 353 (kindle approx.)
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★★

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 Fryand 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.

Goodreads | Amazon

I want to buy this book so I can drown it in my tears instead of threatening my Kindle with the dreaded bag of rice again. The story’s start is misleading – grumpy old man doing grumpy old man things, so how can you even like this guy?

But wait! There’s more.

Ove’s story is beautiful and haunting and resonates with me on a level that I, a twenty-something white American girl, don’t fully understand. The book did a beautiful slow reveal of Ove’s past with his wife and gave insight into his neighbors’ lives and why on earth they would put up with his shenanigans. It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s cute, and there’s a delightful Cat Annoyance too. The writing is good and solid, which I’m uncertain is in spite of or due to the translation from Swedish, but this book is intensely quotable. I’m definitely getting the Swedish version and giving it to my grandpa, since he is Ove in many ways.

Honestly, it reminds me of the movie Gran Torino (one of my favorites, although Ove is considerably less racist), and as soon as I made the connection I couldn’t stop picturing Ove as Clint Eastwood. I would be okay with this when Hollywood inevitably gets ahold of this story and decides to… well, Hollywood all over it. The Swedish version is/was being filmed – or I figure as much since I can’t read Swedish – so it’s only a matter of time.

I’ll still cry. Probably.

Disclaimer: I did receive this book for free via NetGalley, but that has in no way influenced my review.

     MEET YOUR BLOGGER!

Your blogger just hours before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Hello hello hello! I figured I might as well share a little bit of bookishness about me. My top five favorite standalones as of five minutes ago are:

  1. Born Free by Joy Adamson
  2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  3. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

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Welcome and hello, hopefully-friends! Exclamation points!

My name is Alex, and I’m a twenty-something queer girl from the midwest with a hardcore fiction addiction. I don’t care for romance in books, but I love my cat and cute video games.

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