REVIEW: A MAN CALLED OVE, BY FREDRIK BACKMAN

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In the neighborhood where he has lived for many years, Ove is known as a curmudgeon, a cranky old man, and someone around whom to tiptoe carefully. Watching his daily routines, though, one senses that there is much more to the man. He seems almost obsessive as he checks out the neighborhood, issuing warnings to people who are disobeying the rules of the home owners group.

But one can also see that Ove has a larger plan, one that he hopes to carry out…and soon. But something always stops him. Like the neighbors moving in and backing a trailer into his mailbox, or the pregnant neighbor needing a ride somewhere. Or a cat that needs looking after. Pulled more and more into the community, Ove doesn’t seem less cranky, necessarily, but certainly there is more going on with him.

Beneath the bursts of anger and the crankiness lies a story that we are told in bits and pieces until it all begins to make sense. And as we warm up to him, we find ourselves rooting for him and hoping that he decides not to carry out his larger plan.

I found the story slow going, but not because it wasn’t enjoyable. I could only manage it in short spurts, as I found myself feeling deep emotions and wanting to savor the experience. I enjoyed going back into Ove’s life and seeing how he developed the habits and values he owns. We see the sadness of various losses, and we want him to finally find peace and a sense of community.

A Man Called Ove is a character study and a story of community, of compassion, and of reaching out to those around us. A book I highly recommend. 5 stars.

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