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Estimated time to read: 4 minutes
This month we have chosen A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman , this is actually Backman’s debut novel, and what a first novel it is! Read on and find out all about this fabulous story.
“Ove stomped forward. The cat stood up. Ove stopped. They stood there measuring up to each other for a few moments, like two potential troublemakers in a small-town bar. Ove considered throwing one of his clogs at it. The cat looked as if it regretted not bringing its own clogs to lob back”
This story is quirky, loveable, a complete page turner and it’s even a best seller – so you know its not just me bigging it up here! Fredrick Backman is a well known blogger and Ove’s story first started here, his loyal readers wanted more from this grumpy, lovely old man and Backman decided to deliver with a full length novel. Ove is a cantankerous, low-key kind of man, with staunch principles, strict routines and a short fuse. His life is turned upside down by the street cat that forcefully inserts itself into Ove’s life and the chatty young couple, and their two adorable daughters, who move in next door and accidently flatten Ove’s mail box – with an improper use of a U-Haul van no less!
“Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”
“The very sort of smile that makes decent folk want to slap Buddhist monks in the face”
“Ove has been a grumpy old man since the first day of second grade”
Called the ‘bitter neighbour from hell’ Ove is a glass half-empty, people are all disappointing kind of person, as a main character he is fantastically funny and often says what I am thinking (not sure what that says about me…). At first glance this is just another cranky old man, however as Ove’s story unfolds we realise there is more to him than we know, having had his fair share of sadness, over the years he has been conned, ripped off and harassed. We first meet Ove while he is trying to by a computer, he has picked up an iPad and infuriates the Apple Genius store employees by demanding that he have a computer with a keyboard, while not understanding what an iPad or even a laptop is, he is after all looking for a computer, not a laptop. This opening scene is intentionally very funny and touching at the same time, reminding us all that one day we will be out of touch with the most up to date technology! However we learn that previously Ove would always help those in need, getting trucks out of ditches, and even building a ramp for his paralysed wife to be able to go to work when the school she teaches at refuses to. A kindness that goes deep to the bones for this loveable character has lost its way over the years.
“One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else’s future. And it wasn’t as if Ove also died when Sonja left him. He just stopped living.”
“Ove stands there with his hands in his pockets. The cat beside him looks as if it would do the same, if it had pockets.”
His story is told through a series of flash backs, we hear about him meeting the absolute love of his life, his wife Sonja, learn how he would do anything for her and how, after her passing he struggles to move on. He can no longer carry on living without his love and decides to join her, this man has a heroic decency in the face of death. However when Parvaneh and her chaotic family move in next door and an unkempt street cat latches himself on to Ove, his suicide plans are delayed. This grumpy and misunderstood man has his kindness and need to do the right thing reawakened, all while keeping his one-armed man war against all the injustice and bad luck of the world, along with traffic offenses, jogging, tall people and anything else he doesn’t like the look of.
“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if'”
This is one of the most up-lifting, life- affirming and comical tales of kindness I have read, it was hard to put this book down, and I often laughed out loud or had a tear rolling down my eye. The story is thoughtful and charming, it goes to show just how much one life has such a profound impact on countless others. This is a must-read for all ages, meet Ove and grow to love this cranky old man, his unkempt, stubborn cat and his hilarious, and often true, world views.
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