Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

First line: Ove is fifty-nine.

This was a read for my book club, which is the only reason I started and finished this book as it unfortunately got under my skin from the first page. (Not totally true, I guess; I did actually tear up a little at the end, and it was a truly sentimental read, but that annoyed me, too.)

The story felt predictable from the start: Ove, an older man (more on that later), is a curmudgeon. He's from a generation that believes in a kind of standard in work and life, and the humor of the story comes from his disconnect with what life is like now. Backman alternates between Ove now and Ove growing up (my favorite bits), so we can see why this cranky old man is the way he is. Along the way, his charming neighbors jolly him into a kind of happiness. The end.

My biggest complaint -- after the predictability of the story -- is Ove's curmudgeon-ly-ness. I work with many who are 59 years old, and even the grouchiest of them are nothing like Ove. It was hard for me to remember that Ove was 59, for I kept imagining him as 70+.

I genuinely can't say more for this book -- it's a very fast read -- I actually read it on my phone! -- and it's a very feel good book if you're in search of something like that. (Practically saccharine sweet, which even I need now and then!) But I just wasn't keen on following cranky-old-white-guy-learns-to-love-again. The rest of my book club uh-dored it, so don't trust me!

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman, trans. by Henning Koch

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Sweden / Neighbors / Grief)
Publisher/Publication Date: Atria (7/2014)
Source: Scribd / Hoopla


  1. Oh no! My book club is reading this for April. I'm still waiting on my library copy, but now you have me worried!

    1. You might really enjoy it! My entire book club (about 20 people, ranging in age from late 20s to late 60s) all loved it, and found it very charming and appealingly sentimental. I'm just naturally cranky about stories of cranky white men.

  2. I know someone else who recently read this and loved it. I appreciate your comments though because it helps to temper my expectations when I do eventually get around to reading it.