My review of A Man Called Ove first appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers. It is appearing here today with their permission. It was also my Nerdy Special pick for July. This book is presently at the top of my favorites list for 2014. It is so wonderful, and I've already recommended it to about 100 people. Honestly, this is so worth the read.
First line: "Ove is fifty-nine."
Ove is a man who always views the world in black and white; it’s either right or wrong. So when the three-year-old next door draws a picture of him, her mother explains to Ove, “You’re the funniest thing she knows. That’s why she always draws you in colour.”
In his quirky, heart-warming debut, Fredrik Backman introduces the world to Ove, a Swedish curmudgeon who recently lost his wife, Sonja, to cancer and his job to downsizing. Ove lived for both and feels he no longer has relevance, so he’s resolved to commit suicide.
Fate has other plans. When they turn to Ove for help, an overweight IT geek, a spirited family new to his neighborhood, a gay young man, an old friend and simultaneous arch enemy, even a stray cat interrupt Ove’s meticulous strategy to rejoin his wife in the afterlife.
Backman juxtaposes the seriousness of tragedy with the hilarity of life’s unpredictability in a respectful and endearing recitation of Ove’s experiences. The chapters alternate between the past and the present--as Ove tries repeatedly to leave this world, readers learn the beautiful love story of he and Sonja.
A Man Called Ove is exquisitely written. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman’s characters are so authentic, readers will likely find the equivalents living in their own neighborhoods.
Readers will laugh and cry and see all the color in this astounding debut: part love story, part crusade, all wonderful.
A Man Called Ove is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781476738017) from Atria Books. In addition there is an unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 9781626239842), narrated by George Newbern, available from Dreamscape Audio. An Audible version of the audiobook, narrated by Joan Walker, is also available. (Note: both versions are available on Audible, but the Walker narration was recorded by Audible.)
Because I was so moved by the writing in this book, I just wanted to share a couple of quotes with you, so you can have a feel for why I loved it so much:
"It was the first time since the accident that he heard Sonja laughing. As if it was pouring out of her, without the slightest possibility of stopping it, like she was being wrestled to the ground by her own giggling. She laughed and laughed and laughed until the vowels were rolling across the walls and floors, as if they meant to do away with the laws of time and space. It made Ove feel as if his chest was slowly rising out of the ruins of a collapsed house after an earthquake. It gave his heart space to beat again."
"...but all people at root are time optimists. We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like 'if'."
"The Lanky One looks as if he's trying to drum up some courage; he glances at Parvaneh, and looks at Ove with an expression of someone expecting the whole world to start firing rubber bands at him."
I simply can't say enough about this book. It's beautiful, funny and so memorable. It's one I'll definitely make time to re-read. Now go, find a copy and luxuriate in its wonderfulness!