The hardest books to write about are the ones we love the most. It becomes nearly impossible to distill everything that made the book so wonderful into a few paragraphs. The desire to include everything battles with the desire to say, “Just read it!” That’s the case with A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman, a Swedish novel translated into English a few years ago.
I resisted reading A Man Called Ove because the cover made me think it might be a bit twee. Seriously, does that look like the cover of a book that will have you laughing while you cry and crying while you laugh? I think it does not represent the book at all.
Ove, pronounced OOH-vuh, is the grumpy old man of the neighborhood, the one who makes sure every rule of the residents’ association is followed to the letter. He begins his day with an inspection of the neighborhood, walking his route first thing in the morning, making sure the glass is in the glass and the metal in the metal recycling, for example. People think he is bitter, but really he is grieving. His wife died recently and he is determined to join her as soon as he can.
Fortunately, his plans go hilariously awry as he is constantly interrupted by his neighbors who drag him kicking and screaming into their lives. Just read it!
I loved A Man Called Ove so much. I laughed so many times it was ridiculous. Of course, the story is heartwarming, but not with obvious emotional manipulation. There is something so real about Ove. I think most of my family will recognize him – the angry on the surface bitter man whose heart is full of love. The old-fashioned man whose competence has become old-fashioned, who has little time for words and sentiments, but who daily demonstrates his decency and humanity in service to others. Yes, he is familiar. I think we all know him. Just read it!