Before I start, Let me tell you… This is the most difficult book, I have ever been asked to review. After a thousand tears, weak smiles and clutching the book to my chest as if somehow it would save me from the grief that always seems overwhelming, I present to you, the book review of A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman.
In a Gist
Ove is a man of the generation gone extinct now. A generation that knew how to park a U-haul truck, build homes and where a man was known for what he did than what he said. Ove is an antisocial man who makes everyday morning rounds to ensure that no burglary has taken place at night even though it is none of his business anymore.
A man ready and waiting to die. Until a boisterous family with two young daughters moves next door. Will Ove be able to live with the suddenness of life that has erupted around him? Or will the family get used to the grumpy old man who is the most particular about everything?
The Emotional Overdose
Backman’s A Man called Ove is a story of friendship, companionship, marriage and the journey of life. But above all, it is a story of grief, love and loss. It is for these three emotions that the story stood out for me.
Grief, Love and Loss are three emotions I have intimately known. It is a story that tells what happens after a loved one dies. It talks of the nooks and crannies of the home that are left scented with their fragrance even after they are long gone. It talks of seeing and breathing in them every day, knowing that you loved them and would have died in their place but you survived. It is a story of being left out, of being forced to live a life you did not imagine for yourself, a story of a lone man whose sun has gone and home is nowhere to be found.
If you are someone who has lost someone or someone who, like me, doesn’t know how to process grief or just someone who is looking for a gutwrenching story, read Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. Ove will soon be the quirky best friend whose hand you will never let go of.
The Myriad shades of Love and Death in ‘A Man Called Ove’
What is it about this book that makes it different from all the other books? What is it about this book that forced me to write a book review knowing that I would be devastated for the rest of the day? I hope your answer lies in this:
A Man Called Ove is a story of a man who has lost his wife. You don’t have to have experienced loss to understand what Backman meant when he wrote “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the colour he had.” Backman’s words touch the deepest vaults of your heart with their honesty. I had to close the book as I read the words, Stop because I belong to the generation who loves like that, my partner is all the colour I have. Just the thought of losing him… I cannot describe the pain it gave me to just write the last sentence.
While reading it, whenever I was forced to imagine his grief, I lost it. It felt so personal. As if it was a story custom written for me. You understand Ove when he goes bitter. You understand that old man whose entire world revolved around the woman he loved. A man who just doesn’t know how to go on with the shattered pieces that he holds inside himself. Because he doesn’t even realise he is broken. His wife was the one who pointed out things like that.
Backman very beautifully pens it, “Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.”
Or when he writes
“One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else’s future. And it wasn’t as if Ove also died when Sonja left him. He just stopped living.”
But let me not derail you into thinking that the book is only about loss and grief. Reading the eccentricities of Ove’s mind, you are promised a good laugh. Backman’s humour is always at the right place in the right shade, treating the heavy subjects with a garnishing of humour and a matter of fact tone. The book is never too much. It never plunges you into a pool of sadness. It is witty, funny and has you smirking for minutes straight as you see Ove being forced to come out of himself and interact with the outside world.
The juxtaposition of the scenes when he makes life easier for other people as soon as he steps out, to the scenes inside his own home where life is sucked out of him tell the sheer brilliance of Fredrick Backman’s narrative. Frederik Backman created the character of an old man which was found relatable, interesting and understanding by a twenty-three-year-old young woman across borders. And that my dear readers, is the genius of Backman’s Writing.
But, Where does the family with the two daughters which has just moved in fit into all this scheme? What do they do? Do they make life easier for Ove or irritate him? I will leave it for you to read and be surprised. I assure you at the end of the novel, you will be satiated, content and a bit more fulfilled than before.
If you find yourself grief-stricken and need to talk, Write to Us. We will lend you a non-judgemental listening ear.
Please share your memories and views on the novel in the Comments Section.
Also, What else would you like me to review? We will be waiting to hear from you.
It will not be a surprise if this movie is soon added to our list of book to movie adaptations Cheers! Have a Good Day.