A Man Called Ove

      Ove drives a Saab, loves cars, is fifty-nine years old, and just wants to die.  He does not like people who drive in the ‘motor vehicles prohibited zone’, or people who own Volvos, American, French, and Japanese cars, or people who cannot back up trailers.  Fredrik Backman’s, A Man Called Ove shows the reader that even Ove, a cantankerous old curmudgeon, can still form wonderful and heartwarming relationships.

      Ove lives alone in a lively neighborhood in Sweden.  He sticks to a strict schedule, always doing the same thing everyday.  As a hard worker, he finds that if one does not work or marry they no longer serve a purpose in the world.  For example, when Ove’s employers tell him that “It’ll be good to slow down a bit,” he no longer serves a purpose by his standards.  Furthermore, when his wife dies he cannot imagine living the rest of his life without her.  As the story goes on, Ove continuously tries to put himself out of his misery in ways ranging from hanging himself to jumping in front of a train, but instead accidentally saves a man’s life and meets the family across the street who thinks he is a good person.  By and by, his relationship grows stronger and stronger with the family, but especially the mother, Parvaneh.  He finds that even though he no longer works or is married, there may be a purpose to life.  

      Fans of heartwarming and humorous books will love this novel by Fredrik Backman.  It combines the grumpy and bitter personality of Ove with the liveliness, creativity and unpredictability of his neighbors to create a truly intriguing story.  The author jumps back in forth in time, sometimes leaving the reader with a feeling of suspense.  In one case, Backman writes that Ove, “Kicks the stool away.  Closes his eyes and feels the noose closing around his throat like the jaws of a wild animal.” The suspense kicks in because the next chapter is an excerpt from the past, so the reader has to wait to see what happens.  Backman also does a wonderful job with the evolution of Ove’s relationship with his neighbor Parvaneh, the cat who sits outside his house, and many other individuals around his community.  A Man Called Ove is for anyone who sometimes acts stubborn and grumpy, but also enjoys the company of other people.  This book made me smile every time he refused to pay extra money for flowers or stopped a car to tell them they were not allowed to drive in the ‘motor vehicles prohibited’ area.  I would read this book again because of the comforting but also awkward interactions Ove has with other people.  A Man Called Ove gives the reader an outstanding example of what it is like to find the comfort and joy in life through friendships.