My eyes are red and a little puffy today and I’m totally exhausted.
I decided to stay up late to finish reading A Man Called Ove and ended up sobbing in bed. Then I couldn’t fall asleep because I kept thinking about Ove and making myself cry again. And again. Even right now thinking about it I’m a little teary. It joins the ranks of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, Me Before You and The Elegance of the Hedgehog as books that make me lose my sh*t.
Fredrik Backmans’ A Man Called Ove wasn’t on my TBR List. It wasn’t even on my radar at all. But every time I went to the bookstore, there would be this little book, dozens of them all stacked up making a statement like “you might as well buy me, I’m not going anywhere.” It’s been selected as a Chatelaine Book Club book (The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy was another recent selection so I’d say that the Chatelaine book club is kind of killing it right now) and every time I saw it, it was accompanied by a write up declaring it to be a heartwarming, delightful read.
I’m always up for more heartwarming books and I love being delighted.
Ove is a grumpy man. He doesn’t understand why people today can’t be bothered to do things properly anymore. Why people always take shortcuts – one must shovel the snow deliberately, not just clear a little path. He has only ever driven Saabs and doesn’t trust those folks that drive BMWs. Ove lives in a world that is black and white, where rules are rules. His entire life he has been plagued by “men in white shirts” who make it impossible for him to just continue to live the way he wants to live; namely, the right way.
So when a young family moves in across the street, you know this is going to cause problems. Heavily pregnant Parvaneh and her lanky husband Patrick start asking Ove for all kinds of help. At first Ove is reluctant – he has plans of his own and he can’t be getting involved in other people’s business even if it’s clear that Patrick is completely useless – but eventually he gives in as he’d rather things were done properly. And he’s clearly the only one that can be trusted to do things properly.
Once you let one person into your life, it opens the door to let a whole bunch of others walk right in.
This book is hilarious and completely devastating. I found myself laughing hysterically – there is something incredibly endearing about a man who refers to a stray cat as The Cat Annoyance, or who puts newspaper on the seats before allowing a 3 and 7 year old to sit in his car – and then the next page I’d be fighting tears. Ove is old fashioned and gruff but he accepts people for who they are. He is loyal and if he says he’s going to do something, he will do it. He might be swearing under his breath the whole time, but he’ll do it. I wish I had an Ove in my life.
A Man Called Ove is the story of a man learning how to live again. It’s a f&*king delight and I hope you read it.