Until I read Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, I hadn’t realized how a book could pull off being so comical yet saddening simultaneously.
The story is in the perspective of Ove, who appears nothing more than a cranky, contentious old man. Ove is the kind of man who takes morning rounds of his neighborhood, playing the role of an unwanted rule-enforcer while judging everyone in his unintentionally humorous way. The novel goes back and forth between present and past, and as the story progresses, insight is gained explaining why Ove is the way he is and why he lost his purpose of life.
The glimpses of the past gave me a respect and understanding for Ove and his principles—he isn’t just a cranky old man for no reason. Additionally, unlike many other stories with flashbacks, this story didn’t frustrate me with its back-and-forth movement. In fact, it kept me wanting to know more. Little mysteries are revealed, which explain Ove’s attitude toward certain, seemingly unconnected things.
As the readers gain a new understanding of Ove, the people (and the cat) around Ove gain a similar understanding and love for him. People appreciate and depend on Ove’s practical skills and blunt-yet-considerate manner; they find a place in their hearts for Ove, which helps him regains his purpose. A Man Called Ove is an incredibly humorous yet bittersweet read, and I highly recommend it. It’s the perfect step outside the realm of the prevalent YA novels, and its depth and insight make it a story that’s well worth the read.
– Mia T.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
There are the people who drive fast in a residential area, even when signs directly forbid it. There are the new families moving in, one of whom backs up his trailer into Ove’s mailbox. There is a starving cat that won’t leave.
In his old age, Ove is lonely and just wants to be left alone to die in peace. But no one will leave the stingy, Saab-driving man alone.
Throughout the course of the novel, Ove has a profound influence on his neighbors and his resident’s association. And those in his neighborhood prove to Ove that the world is just not done with him quite yet. Ove teaches his neighbors, and the readers, that one person can have an outstanding impact on the lives of others.
A Man Called Ove is incredibly deep. The book is more of an adult novel than what I am used to reading, but the story is so real and down to earth that I would recommend it to anyone. My favorite part was seeing Ove secretly change, though he continued to refute that fact to the rest of the world. Behind his guarded attitude is a heart-wrenching story that the neighbors take years to discover, but when they do, it is extremely touching. If you’ve never read this book, please do. It’s definitely worth your time.
– Leila S., 12th grade
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive and Hoopla.