Hi readers! I wrote a review a few weeks ago of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (you can read that here), and I really didn’t have a lot to say about it that was very nice. I feel really bad about it because I had also read A Man Called Ove and knew that the author, Fredrik Backman, wasn’t a bad writer, just My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry was kind of a one-off. So, today, I want to share a review where I do have nice things to say about Fredrik Backman’s work, specifically A Man Called Ove.
Quick pro tip:
You’re welcome to buy physical copies of any books through the links I’ve provided throughout this post, but I used Scribd for all of my reading. It’s a reading app that’s been described as the Netflix of books, and I LOVE it. You can read three e-books and one audiobook for $8.99/month, and the best part for me is that your monthly reads carry over for three months if, say, you have children that won’t let you read as much as you want to. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial right here. A Man Called Ove is on there, and I will be sourcing all of my Books Of The Month from there.
Fredrik Backman is a 35-year-old Swedish writer. He writes in what I assume is Swedish, and his books are then translated to English. He wrote A Man Called Ove in 2012, but his other work includes My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. A Man Called Ove has received a lot of praise and was on the New York Times Bestseller list. It was also an international best seller and quite popular in Backman’s native Sweden.
“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 Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).”
My Addition To Amazon’s Summary
Ove is trying to kill himself throughout the book. Seriously. He tries over and over again to kill himself, and a bunch of people, including a stray cat, a sullen teenager, other grumpy old people, and the “chatty young couple” with their “chatty young daughters”, keep coming in and messing his plans up. You learn a lot about Ove’s history, and as Amazon says, he does definitely make some unexpected friends.
Of course. Ove is a grumpy old guy, which can sometimes come across as an overused archetypal character. Backman gives him a great, detailed backstory that makes him so much more believable and, really, lovable. He’s the stereotype but throughout you realize why he is the way he is, and he really does become quite charming.
A Stray Cat
This cat was, aside from Ove, probably my favorite character. It got under Ove’s skin over and over again, but in an absolutely hilarious way.
The Family Next Door
A couple and their two children move in next door, starting the relationship off by running over Ove’s mailbox. The woman of the couple, Pravanah, I really liked as a character. She acted very flighty and silly to Ove, but she knew what he was up to and actively tried to stop him.
A Sullen Teenager And His Gay Friend
What? Yep. Ove keeps calling the gay friend “bent” which I believe is quite offensive, but also hilarious because he just has no censor and doesn’t see anything wrong with saying it.
An Old Couple In The Neighborhood
Ove used to be friends with the old man, but they became enemies over the HOA committee, and now the other old man has horrible Alzheimer’s.
An Overweight Young Adult From Down The Street
Jimmy. Allergic to cats; habitually eats his feelings.
I can’t say enough about A Man Called Ove. I really, really loved it. When I reviewed My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, one of my main complaints was that there were too many characters. The characters in A Man Called Ove are just as many as My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, but in A Man Called Ove they just work. Backman gives them backstories where appropriate, and they all serve a purpose. Interestingly, they’re all pretty stereotypical, archetypal, whatever you want to call them, but again, it just works in this case. They were like people you know in real life. That’s probably what made me love the book the most: it was like something that could really happen.
The ending was perfect. The loose ends were all tied up, and in the most appropriate way. I honestly wouldn’t change anything about this book.
The Bottom Line
Would I Recommend A Man Called Ove?
Yes. Without hesitation, I would definitely recommend it. Parts of it were sad, but overall it was heartwarming and just lovely.
Rating Out Of Ten
I hesitate to say this because I have a very high standard for using it, but…10. I have been racking my brain trying to think of anything that I didn’t like or anything that I would change about how it was written. Honestly, I have come up with absolutely nothing. I really, truly loved it. This is something I rarely say, even with a book that was a perfect 10 in my opinion, but I could see myself reading it again. That’s how much I liked it.
Have you read A Man Called Ove before? Did you love it, too, or not so much? I’d love to hear what you thought; feel free to drop a comment below!