“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.
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.
I really enjoyed A Man Called Ove, especially as I moved further into the story. At the outset, it felt almost too familiar — yet another grumpy old man who finds a new lease on life thanks to the interference of quirky neighbors; a man who finds it harder and harder to maintain his isolation and bitterness, despite his best efforts.
And yes, there is that, but there are greater depths as well, as we learn more about Ove’s earlier life and what’s actually going on in his head and his heart. With each layer of the past revealed, we get a deeper insight into the secret joys and sorrows of Ove’s life, and come to understand why he’s ended up where he is when we first meet him.
Again, the cast of supporting characters seems a bit familiar — the old friend, the overly friendly and overweight young man next door, the extremely persistent pregnant woman with a hapless husband… and the bedraggled, homeless cat who ends up being the key to breaking through Ove’s outer shell. Still, despite feeling like I’ve read variations of this story before, by the end I was hopelessly caught up in the emotional impact of the story and very much invested in Ove and his ragtag gang of neighbors and partners in crime, so to speak.
I had one small quibble — it was a little disconcerting to reconcile Ove’s age (59) with the description of him as being old and curmudgeonly. If we weren’t explicitly told his age, I would have put him at least another 20 years older.
That said, A Man Called Ove is a delightful read. I got through about 2/3 via audiobook before switching to print, simply because I was traveling and didn’t have a way to listen. The audiobook was quite fun (and taught me how to pronounce Ove’s name — it’s OO-va.) Either way, I have no problem recommending this book to anyone who enjoys quirky, unpredictable characters — but be warned: You must be okay with having your heart melted too.
I definitely want to read more by this author!
Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman (translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch)
Publication date: 2012
Length: 337 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
13 thoughts on “Take A Peek Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”
Many have said Backman’s books are a bit quirky, or that his characters are, something like that. Either way, I’m looking forward to trying his books. I have My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.
Oh, I’d really like to read that one too! It’ll be interesting to see if his books all have that same feel to them, but so far, I’m a fan!
I loved this book – a rare one that had me crying and laughing within the space of a page. It’s a book that I recommend to lots of people.
Have you read his other books? I really want to see what they’re like.
Not yet but I have My Grandmother and will get to it soon.
I have a hold request for this one — just waiting for it to show up at my library branch. 🙂
This has been on my TBR for a while. Your beautiful review has reminded me that I need to pick this up. I am surprised that he is only 59 though!
Thanks! I’d love to hear what you think. I’d been hearing about it for a while — I’m so glad I finally gave it a chance!
I will definitely let you know, if I get the opportunity to read it 🙂
I just recently added this one to my TBR even though it seems far different from anything I typically read… but wow, the reviews are stellar and everyone seems to adore it. Hopefully my hold comes in soon. 🙂
I hope you enjoy it! I was very cynical when I started, thinking it couldn’t possibly be a book for me… but clearly, it was!
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