As I said in my first TBR blog, A Man Called Ove made it there because of a glowing recommendation from my friend Jennifer. She read the book on vacation, and firmly placed it into her favorite books of all time list. I had seen the book around for some time, and actually thought that the cover looked rather inviting, but had never picked it up. Now I can say I have read it and it made me cry my eyes out!
Ove is a 59 year old widow who is set up to be the grumpy old man that likes nothing and no one. However, as we find out across the novel he really does have a big heart. Mr. Backman, in his first novel, does an amazing job of using both flashbacks and current events to build Ove as a full and well rounded character. The scenes with his wife, and the life they built together are wonderfully vivid. I really enjoyed his relationship with the stray cat that more or less adopts Ove as well. As a pet owner myself, I often know when my dogs and cats are looking at me with a "you know better" look. It is done so well here.
The story starts when a new family moves in next door to Ove. The husband, trying to back in a moving truck, runs over Ove's mailbox. Ove, being a man of rules, goes out to address the situation. This is where we first meet Parvaneh the pregnant wife that instantly sees through Ove to who he truly is inside. I don't want to give too much away, but Ove interacts with a number of people that just need a father figure. And that comes to the next brilliant part of this novel - the relationship that is built in flashbacks - between Ove and his own dad and how that made Ove the man he is today. Two men who love each other but never have to say it. A boy who wants nothing more than to be as good a man as his father - no matter what. It is beautiful.
This book is written in a very straightforward style, and will not win any literary awards. Some of the translation is a bit clunky at times - but gets the point across. But that does not matter at all to the enjoyment of the book overall. Just like the people in this book, you will fall in love with Ove. You have seen him in people you know, and you will respect those people a little bit more. The last 30 pages or so, I cried the entire time. And they were not tears of sadness - people make their own families and seeing some one so deserving get one - well that was worth turning every page.
Rating : 4 books