A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"He knew very well that some people thought he was nothing but a grumpy old sod without any faith in people. But, to put it bluntly, that was because people had never given him reason to see it another way. Because a time comes in every man's life when he decides what sort of man he's going to be: the kind who lets other people walk all over him, or not."
I cannot even begin to put into words how much I loved this book. To be honest, it seemed like such an odd premise that it took me a while to actually read this one. Now, it is definitely one of my all-time favorite books.
The story follows a man named Ove, who lives in a little community where he is one of the last standing from the older generation. Surrounded by younger couples of the new generation, Ove feels angry. He feels like the new generation is lazy, confused, and lacks respect for important, practical skills. Ove is your typical cranky old man. However, as the story carries on, he slowly learns to find a place in his community and find connections he never thought possible.
This book covers deep issues...but is hilarious. Laugh-out-loud hilarious. The cantankerous Ove has such a funny perspective of people and has such great lines in the book, especially at the beginning. I loved seeing the world through his eyes. I also loved the incorporation of the cat into the book--Ove hates cats.
I also enjoyed the message of this book, which is that you truly can't judge others. At the beginning, everyone sees Ove as this grumpy old man, including the reader. As the story unfolds, though, you learn so much about Ove's life and why he is the way that he is. Backman did an amazing job at incorporating so many details to explain every quirk on Ove's personality. Most of all, as you learn about Ove, you realize that behind the hard exterior is a huge heart, something the neighbors come to learn over time.
This book is also about the fact that so few of us take time to know those who live around us. It shows us what so many of us are missing by not getting to know our neighbors and those in our community. The beautiful thing about this book is that a community of individualistic families ends up coming together through the most unlikely source--a grumpy man called Ove.
Besides Ove, I adored the character of Parvaneh. She complements Ove's personality but in a softer, more loving way. I liked how she looked out for Ove and also leaned on Ove. Their friendship was very unlikely, but very touching.
This book will change the way you see others and make you realize that you can't know someone's whole story just by looking at them. It will make you stop and think before assuming you know someone. Most of all, it shows you that everyone needs to find a purpose and a connection to others in this world in order to find meaning.
Read this book. Tell all of your friends about it. It is not only an entertaining read, but an important reminder about life and the people around us. I will definitely be picking up more books by Backman.
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