I was first introduced to the grump that is Ove by my aunty who’s a librarian and has dedicated most of her working life to encouraging teenagers and young adults to read more books. I hadn’t heard of A Man Called Ove before, nor the author and columnist Fredrik Backman; both had completely bypassed my radar when the novel was first published back in 2012. I picked it up in my *ahem* early 30s and I wasn’t disappointed with the recommendation.
An exploration of grief
The story follows a miserable, grumpy, but weirdly loveable elderly man living alone on a suburban street who shouts, swears, and fights his way through life. Bitter (and still grieving) over the loss of his wife and mad at the world, Ove strikes up an unexpected friendship with a young family who moves in next door. He also accidentally inherits a stray cat.
Despite an initial reluctance to interact with anything and anyone, Ove begrudgingly finds himself helping those around him; he slowly gains a new lease of life and something to live for.
A book full of wit
There are a number of reasons why I love this book. Firstly, the writing style is just wonderful. Backman uses charm, humour, and wit to really help you warm to a character who can at times be outright mean.
“Ove feels an instinctive scepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
If you are looking for an epic novel with twists and tales and deeply involved content, this book isn’t for you. The language isn’t overly complicated or descriptive, it’s simple and approachable. Despite this, Backman has the incredible ability to build up such poignant moments, that you find yourself reluctant to turn the page (or swipe if you’re a digital reader) for fear of what may happen.
The comfort of familiarity
Another reason for loving this book: you know this man – everyone has met an Ove. Whether he’s a family member, friend, or neighbour. And that is testament to how Backman not only develops Ove’s character over time, but also his relationships with others.
“It’s been a while since someone reminded him of the difference between being wicked because one has to be or because one can.”Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
For me personally, Ove reminds me so much of my grandfather at times that in my head, I pictured him when reading. I heard his voice and his mutterings and felt a nice sense of familiarity. This was incredibly comforting especially as we lost him to suicide when I was very young. And despite this being a fictional book, I take comfort in the fact that life gets in the way of Ove’s plans to end his own life.
Dealing with difficult themes
The book touches upon some pretty dark topics: loneliness, grief, depression, suicide (to name a few), but it does it in a way that doesn’t necessarily leave you feeling down and constantly reaching for a tissue (much), but more a feeling of being grateful for the small things in life that make us happy and keep us going.
In the case of Ove – it’s the relationships he once had or has that are such a massive part of his life – in particular, his marriage. Ove adored his wife and could never understand what it was she saw in him. The pain of losing her really gripped me as a reader and you could feel his sense of loss.
Needless to say, I laughed, cried, sighed and smirked my way through this book. And went on to read all Fredrik Backman’s novels afterwards.
– Sarah Kneath, Brand Marketing Manager
“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the colour he had.”Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
Have you read A Man Called Ove? What do you think of this heart-wrenching and uplifting story? Let us know in the comments below.