Book Review: A Man Called Ove

Every morning for the almost four decades they had lived in this house, Ove put on the coffee percolator, using exactly the same amount of coffee as on any other morning, and then drank a cup with his wife. One measure for each cup, and one extra for the pot–no more, no less. People didn’t know how to do that anymore, brew some proper coffee. In the same way as nowadays nobody could write with a pen. Because now it was all computers and espresso machines. And where was the world going if people couldn’t even write or brew a pot of coffee?”

★★★★★

It took me such a long time and I finished it right at the end of the year, but I think I may have found my favorite book of 2018. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman follows the story of Ove, a curmudgeonly old miser who doesn’t get along with anyone. Of course, Ove is forced to interact with a wide variety of colorful characters and one small cat that Ove is not at all pleased about. Backman weaves a beautiful tale and breathes life into even the seemingly simplest of characters. The chapters jump back and forth between Ove’s present day and his past to tell a beautiful love story between a quiet, principled man and his vibrant, caring wife.

The Good:

  1. Who doesn’t love a great redemption arc? Throughout the story, Ove transitions from depressed old miser to depressed old miser with empathy and a dash of self-awareness.
  2. I’m really not into cars, but there is a surprisingly beautiful theme throughout the book that ties Ove’s relationships to his relationship with his Saabs. In fact, just go to chapter 28 and read the whole thing. Backman weaves such a fantastic parallel between Ove and his neighbor Rune’s cars that you don’t even realize what his original point was until the end of the chapter and everything clicks into place.
  3. It is written beautifully and the translator did a fantastic job.
  4. “He never understood why she chose him. She loved only abstract things like music and books and strange words. Ove was a man entirely filled with tangible things. he liked screwdrivers and oil filters. He went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. She danced.”
  5. It’s just so sweet and sad and I hate it and I love it for making me feel these things.

The Bad:

  1. The ending is pretty cheesy. Don’t get me wrong I still bawled my eyes out and enjoyed it, but it was still kind of corny.
  2. I just can’t handle the death of a spouse trope. So many tears!
  3. End of list.

In conclusion, if you are ready to cry go read this. I obviously couldn’t go into too much detail to keep this spoiler-free, but just trust me. Read this.