Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: May 2015
Summary: Ove is a 59-year-old curmudgeon who spends his days simply by monitoring the neighborhood for any rule-breakers and generally being dissatisfied with other people. His orderly life is thrown into chaos when a young family moves in next door. This quirky cast of characters and a straggly cat help to disrupt his life and force him to consider how he got there.
My Thoughts: Cutting straight to the chase, as Ove would likely prefer, this was not my favorite book. If it hadn’t been for it being a book club pick, I likely would not have finished reading it. I have to say that I really enjoyed the writing style of Backman and at times really enjoyed this book. There were chapters, which are more like vignettes, where I was overwhelmed with how beautifully written and poignant this book is. Where this novel fell short for me was in the length and redundancy. If there were a few less chapters about his contentious relationship with his neighbor, Rune, or even less devotion to his obsession with Saabs, I think I would have enjoyed this book much more. I can’t exactly recommend this book, but I would encourage someone to read it for themselves and make up their own opinion. I would not call this book a waste of time, just not my favorite.
Book Club Discussion: We were split down the middle in terms of enjoying this book. My sister Janette and I did not love it, but my mom and sister Erin liked it better. None of us, however, would classify this as a home run. Something we all agreed upon was that 59 isn’t really that old. This book continually describes Ove to be an old man and the way Backman describes him, you would think he was in his 80s. Maybe in Sweden they are even more fearful of aging than we are in the U.S.? We talked a bit about the Swedish influences, such as trying to imagine the neighborhood that Ove lives in or the “council” in “white shirts.” I watched the trailer for the Swedish movie made about this book to get some of my questions answered and was able to see the neighborhood set up, which is unlike anything I have ever seen in the U.S. We also enjoyed the many references of IKEA, me especially since my house is mostly furnished by the Swedish company. There were plenty of topics to talk about, so I would recommend its use in a book club.
Next Month’s Pick: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance