Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove is fifty-nine. ~ Opening of  A Man Called Ove


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Atria Books, 2014
Fiction; 337 pgs

From the Publisher: 
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.

Let me start off by saying how much I loved this book. Ove, for all his rigidness, judgmental ways, and crankiness, was impossible not to like once I got to know him.  His strong work ethic and natural propensity to do the right thing stand out above all else. Through his reflections into his past, the reader gets a good sense of what led Ove to his current place in life, to make the choices he made, and to ultimately understand who exactly Ove was. My heart broke for Ove; and at times my heart soared for Ove. I came to really care about him. I couldn't help it.

Ove believes he has very little to look forward to as the book opens. He has suffered through so many losses, and it has weighed him down. He doesn't believe life is worth living anymore.  Nothing is as it used to be. It's not a world he wants to understand or be a part of.  When his new neighbors move in, Ove's orderly world is thrown into a tailspin.

I adored his neighbors, especially Parvaneh who saw behind the frowns and scowls on Ove's face. While the author does not go much into her back story, I couldn't help but get a good idea of the kind of person she is. She's someone I would want to get to know and spend afternoons chatting with. Maybe our girls could play together.  I loved her daughters and the role they played in the story. Having a 3 year old of my own, I know the irresistibly factor they can have at that age.

Perhaps my most favorite character of the book is the cat. He reminded me a lot of Ove. Life was not easy for either one, but they proved to be a strong person/animal.

This book could have been overly sentimental as these books sometimes tend to be. It wasn't. It's a feel good book to be sure, but one that touches on the harsh realities of life as well as the necessity to move forward.

I gave a copy of this book to my mother-in-law for her birthday last August after reading a few positive book blogger reviews. I meant to read it too, but wasn't able to get to it. Now I know why she named it as her favorite read of 2014. I can just imagine how much the main character reminded her of her own father--at least from the stories I have heard.  I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite reads of 2015. One I can see myself coming back to time and time again.  And that's saying something given how rare it is I reread a book.

Rating: * (Outstanding)

Source: Many thanks to Kristen of BookNAround for sharing this book with me through our postal bookclub! I also received an e-copy from the publisher for an honest review.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

25 comments:

  1. I've seen several good reviews about this book and now after reading your review, it has further made me want to read it. Onto my wishlist it goes. :)

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    1. Melody - It's such a feel good book. I do hope you'll read it!

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  2. Curmudgeons make great characters! And a cat! I have seen the title around, but didn't know what it was about. Thanks, Wendy, I'm adding it to my list.

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    1. Jenclair - I think so too. :-) Ove is such a great character. And that cat! I would read the book again just for him. :-)

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  3. Oh this sounds absolutely amazing! I love the not taking people at face value and the whole seeing behind the grumpy mask. This is going on my TBR right away! I love characters you can really connect too and really want to be friends with.

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    1. Katherine - It's definitely worth reading! I think you might like it, Katherine.

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  4. I loved this book too - it was one of my favorites of 2014.

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    1. Kathy - I can see why it's one of your favorites. I remember hearing such good things about it when I first bought a copy for my mother-in-law, and then when she said she loved it, I figured I'd be reading it sooner than later. And as it turned out, it was meant to be thanks to Kristen.

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    1. Diane - Wasn't it good? Books like that are soul cleansing.

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  6. This sounds like a wonderful character-driven novel. Great review!

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    1. Irene - Thank you! It's a hard book to talk about without giving too much away, I'm afraid. I really loved it.

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  7. It really was a sweet book all the way around, from grumpy Ove to his cat and his neighbors that were all pretty hilarious. It was light, easy reading and a breath of fresh air in my world of serial killers and dysfunction!

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    1. Sandy - I think the only thing that bugged me a little was the way Jerry was portrayed. But given Ove's character, I figured it was more him than the author's fault, you know what I mean? It really was a breath of fresh air. As light as it was most of the time, I also felt it was quite sad at times.

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  8. I loved loved loved this book and am always happy when someone else loves it too. Ove is a character I would find very difficult to be with but when you read about a person like that, it is hard not to love them.

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    1. Athira - I agree. I am not sure I would be as accepting as Parvaneh was with him. But, yes, I really did come to like him.

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  9. I've been considering this just from seeing the ratings, it looks like it's done well. I'm in a character-driven phase at the moment and it sounds perfect. Glad your MIL liked it so much - it's always nice to know you picked the right book.

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    1. Charlie - Yes, it is always nice when I hit a home run in choosing a book for someone as a gift. :-) I hope you enjoy this one if you do read it.

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  10. I've seen this one somewhere, I think it was offered on Amazon Vine. Glad you loved it so much. I'll have to add it to my wishlist. It sounds well written with characters the reader will love.

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    1. Naida - I know it was on NetGalley as one of their features. I thought it was very well written, and such a delight. I'm glad I read it.

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  11. This sounds like a wonderful book! My heart aches for Ove just reading your review. I'm going to check it out.

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    1. A.M.B. - It is! Ove is such a great character, even as grumpy as he tends to be. I hope you enjoy it if you do read it.

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  12. Great review, Wendy! Oh I really want to read this. I don't recall hearing about this when it came out so I'm glad you got a chance to read it and review it for us. Love characters that leave such a memorable impression.

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  13. Wow! That's quite an endorsement. I've had this on my wish list since last year, never enough time, and I'm convinced that Ove is my kinda man.

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