We read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman a few months ago, and so far, it has been my favorite book of the year.
The story is set in Sweden and told by a Swedish author. The story has been translated, and it translates well. He begins with Ove in an Apple store trying to buy a computer, but Ove doesn't understand iPad talk and in frustration walks out. The story then goes back by three weeks, and we meet Ove as he walks his neighborhood. We get to see all the things that annoy Ove, and how fastidious he is in everything he does.
Ove is an overly organized man who doesn't appreciate anyone messing with the order in his life. He has recently been laid off from his job. '"It'll be good for you to slow down a bit,"' they'd drawled. Slow down? What did they know about waking up on a Tuesday and no longer having a purpose? With their Internets and espresso coffees, what did they know about taking a bit of responsibility for things?" (13).
Ove, age fifty-nine is responsible - overly much so, and now he has no job, and his beloved wife is gone, and he can't see a reason to go on. He decides that in Ove fashion he will end his life.
Now, please don't think that this story ends here because it doesn't. Backman introduces new neighbors for Ove, and you will love these neighbors. Ove names them the Blond Lanky One, the Pregnant One. The Lanky One promptly smashes Ove's mailbox as he tries to back a U-Haul up to the house. He also meets a young man he calls the soot-eyed boy, another by the name of Adrian who needs a bike fixed, a cat, and two little girls.
In the course of this story, Ove is a cranky man - one who seems to be unaccepting of others. However, don't let his outside demeanor fool you. Ove loves his wife with a love unequaled. Ove cares passionately about people, but he is a quiet man, one who shows his love by his actions. He has a bad temper, but he will make you laugh (and cry) from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
Backman gives us Ove's backstory in bits and pieces. We meet his friend and learn how their friendship ended. We get to see him court his wife, and we see their sorrows too because life has both joys and sorrows.
I borrowed this book from my neighbor who had borrowed it from the library, and then ordered my own copy because I had to share this novel with my mom. I knew she would love it, and she did.
You may feel a bit put off while you get through the first few chapters of this story, but stick with it while you get to know Ove because you will love him. I can't wait to re-read this book.