A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Title: A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman

Review by Thivija Sabanathan

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a story about, believe it or not, a man called Ove. He is fifty-nine years old, the grumpiest of grumpy old men, and one of the most lovable characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Following the death of his wife, the only person able to see the good hidden beneath his numerous, often impenetrable outer layers, Ove decides that he should follow. Life doesn’t seem worth living without his only source of colour. Every day, he wakes up with the intention of it being his last, and every night, he resigns to another day.

A foreign lady, a lanky man and two children move into the neighbourhood, trailer wheels bulldozing over Ove’s flowerbed as they do so, and they set off a chain of events that he could never have foreseen. These events take over his life, preventing him from implementing its end as he finds himself needed alive rather than dead. Ove slowly integrates himself into the community that he despised. Despite his resistance, he picks up a few friends as well as a cat on his journey, and they fill the black-and-white world that he believed to be trapped in.

Rich past

Ove is the furthest thing from perfect, but as you dive into the book, you realise that he is also the furthest thing from bad. A rich and detailed past is provided alongside the main story, and with each discovery, his general rude disposition transitions from a flaw into something understandable and forgivable. With the progression of the story, he slackens his stubbornly set in ways and allows himself new experiences; he grows and kindness peeks through the cracks in his outer layers, blossoming the more he interacts with the world.

The first chapter depicts a bitter, old man that doesn’t understand technology and is horrible to nice sales assistants, and I admit that I almost despised him. This scene later continues, with an almost entire novel written between these two chapters, so imagine my surprise as I remembered the hatred that I had initially experienced. As he shouted at the unsuspecting sales assistants, I felt an unconditional type of love oozing out of my pores.

A Man Called Ove stands out because of its portrayal of the events following a death. Despite the fact that Ove would protest until his final breath that he enjoys solitude, he was lonely. His lack of social support, which resulted from his somewhat unusual personality traits and the general process of aging in society, had detrimental effects; he didn’t grieve his wife properly, then this developed into suicidal ideation, despite no clear portrayal of depression. The book contradicts typical ideas of grief, of old age and of suicide, and it provides a different viewpoint that results in reassessing beliefs. However, friendship and the chain of events that it was associated with began to change his dire situation. You scream at him to make the right decisions, and although you simply see the chaos that he perceived, you near the end of the book and are amazed at the transformation that had taken place without you even realising it. For example, you notice that he uses names, rather than cruel nicknames, and you can almost burst with pride.

Human experience

I have many favourite books, and although A Man Call Ove is amongst these books, it is special; it is the one book that I would recommend to absolutely everybody. This book deals with the most basic human experiences and emotions, and does so with a brutal honesty that is refreshing in this confusing world. It can be consumed by the whole population as everyone can relate to it in some way, and everyone will fall in love with this strange protagonist. Despite having experienced a full life, Ove has a childlike ignorance regarding the world, which is an interesting and often comedic viewpoint that transforms the relatively normal into completely absurd.

This is a book that you read if you’re feeling sad in order to feel happy, or if you’re feeling happy in order to feel happier. This is a book that will have you smiling like an idiot, laughing out loud and crying

in the messiest and snottiest way. This is a book that you will carry around happily in your heart, that will light up occasionally and bring fond memories. I have read A Man Call Ove twice, and I plan on reading it several more times, because Ove makes everything feel okay.

Review by Thivija Sabanathan

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *