A Man Called Ove is a story that reminds us that everyone has a personal history that has shaped them, most everyone has redeeming qualities that you can uncover if you try hard enough, and life isn’t so bad if you let other people in.
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Ove in A Man Called Ove is the quintessential curmudgeon next door. He “inspects” the neighborhood daily, rails against rule violators and holds strong, inflexible opinions about everything. At the beginning of the book, Ove is very unlikable. But he becomes a more sympathetic character as the book progresses and we learn more about him. For example, we learn that his wife of 40 years died just six months ago. She was his anchor and theirs is a sweet love story. And Ove was just laid off from his job. So this man who takes pride in his work ethic now feels obsolete in a society he no longer understands. Everybody has a history that makes them who they are.
Also really important to this story are the people who embrace Ove despite his prickly ways. This includes a pregnant, Iranian neighbor who figuratively pulls Ove kicking and screaming out of his self-imposed isolation and back into a supportive community. This community sees something of value in Ove and, consequently, Ove begins to feel valued again. Although he would never admit it because he is still, at heart, a curmudgeon.
I enjoyed A Man Called Ove. It was a good reminder about human dignity and the power of love and acceptance. It had me wondering how I would react to the grumpy man next door. Unfortunately, I’d probably be more inclined to give him a wide berth rather than giving him a chance. That probably means I’M the neighborhood curmudgeon!
Have you read A Man Called Ove? What did you think?
Thanks, Virginia, for the book recommendation!
8 thoughts on “Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”
I’ve got a request for this at the library…so looking forward to it. Thanks for the review.
Great! Hope you like it!
Two book recommendations with a male central character and the themes of human dignity, work ethic, and impact of personal history — both of which opened my eyes and have made a lasting impression on me.
House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III
The Residue Years, by Mitchell S. Jackson: a modern Shakespearean tragedy, where Champ tries to do right by him mom and his younger brothers by reclaiming the only home his family has ever known, in a city of few options and little opportunity.
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I’m glad you liked this book! I love how you perfectly summarized the message of it in your first sentence. For me, the book is a challenge to step outside my comfort zone and maybe reach out to the next curmudgeon next door (and I have had a couple!) Though I didn’t love Fredrick Backman’s next novel, “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You I’m Sorry,” I feel that the author again shows a special understanding and acceptance for why we are all so different. I’ve heard the author’s style compared to that of Roald Dahl. I agree and remember his being my favorite read-alouds for my kids. It is likely that I will be reading “Britt-Marie was Here,” Backman’s sequel to “My Grandmother…,” since Britt-Marie is yet another character that I’m curious as to why she is the way she is…
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Inspired by your review, my book group read this as our February selection. We all really enjoyed it! It reminded me yet again how empathy and acceptance makes the world a much better place.
I’m so glad your group liked it!
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