Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Man Called Ove - A Review

There are books that one merely consumes, gobbling up in the moment, only to be mentally discarded later.  Then there are books that one truly digests, where the contents of the book become a part of the reader.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, in my opinion, is the latter.

I stumbled upon this poignant, gem of a tale when it was offered a few days ago as the Daily Deal through Audible for $3.95.  Always eager to acquire an audiobook for less than $5, I read the book's description.  After seeing the words curmudgeon, funny, quirky, and charming used in various descriptions and one review calling this book a "feel good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" (one of my favorites), I decided to give A Man Called Ove a shot.

Ove (pronounced something like "oovuh") is the quintessential grumpy old man.  He adheres to a strict routine and cannot understand why others do not as well.  His very meticulous and orderly personality might border on OCD.  His interactions with his neighbors are limited and pretty much guaranteed to be negative.  He is a man of few words, but when he does speak, it is usually very curt and blunt.  Ove, the ultimate rule follower, is a man who sees the world as either black or white.  Unfortunately, this rigidity has emotionally closed him off to the world and through a series of events, he finds himself in a lonely, solitary existence.  It is quite apparent that although Ove may be alive, he is not living.

Deciding one day that he has simply had enough, he, in typical Ove fashion, begins to meticulously plan.  Little does Ove know that the universe is not through with him yet.  After his mailbox is accidentally flattened by new neighbors as they comically attempt to back up a U-Haul, Ove's life is turned completely upside down and is, unbeknownst to him at that moment, forever changed.

A Man Called Ove is told in the present with flashbacks of his past interlaced throughout the book.  Through these flashbacks we learn that for every negative character flaw Ove exhibits in the present, that there is an event from his past that has forged that trait.

A Man Called Ove is quite possibly one of the most charming, witty, poignant, touching, and laugh out loud funny audiobooks I have ever listened to.  Fredrik Backman's cast of characters are unique, each with very distinct personalities that are conveyed through Backman's use of rich details.  On a side note, Ove doesn't always use the characters' names, settling for physical descriptions instead (i.e. "The Lanky One," "The Pregnant One," or, my favorite, "The Cat Annoyance") which add to the overall richness and imagery of the characters.  The predicaments Ove finds himself in after his new neighbors flatten his mailbox are hilarious.  A Man Called Ove was an absolute joy to read and I wouldn't be shocked if I find myself revisiting Ove's story again in the not so distant future.  

As I mentioned in my previous review of Before I Fall, I don't typically dish out 5 star ratings and to do so for two books in a row is unheard of for me. Having said that, I am still giving A Man Called Ove a 5 because, to me, it was that good.  I highly recommend it and will be verbally recommending it to several of my avid reader friends.

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