Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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Why This Book

I run a monthly poll on the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog via my Book Bucket List. Followers get to choose from a list of the twelve books I own and want to read in the near future. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was selected as the book I should read in March 2018. I added it to the list because I really enjoyed his novel, Beartown, and thought this was the next logical step. A good friend of mine was interested in reading the novel, too, so we made this a buddy read. I’m so excited to discuss the book as if it’s our own book club.

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Approach & Style

I was going to order the book online, but I found it sitting on the shelf in my apartment building’s library room; how lucky am i? The paperback is 337 pages long and broken into ~40 chapters (not  numbered). Each has a title which explains what might happen in the chapter, and they mostly alternate between what is happening today in Ove’s life in comparison to something connected that occurred in the past. It took me 4 hours to read over a three-day weekend getaway to New Hampshire, but I forced myself to stop at 110 pages each day so it would last longer. It could easily be read in one sitting as it’s that good! The novel’s perspective is focused on Ove, and it is told in third-person omniscient POV. It was published in 2014 but as a Swedish novel, then brilliantly translated into English.

Plot, Characters & Setting

Ove is a 59-year old man who is cantankerous, ornery, difficult, mean and everything else that comes along with the type of men you’d see in the movie “Grumpy Old Men.” It opens with a bit about an iPad that is basically someone we all know (or are — I see my own future in a good 20+ years). But he of course has a heart somewhere, and we spend the entirety of the book seeing little pieces of it as we watch his journey to try to complete a final goal. We meet several of his neighbors and former friends, a few citizens of his community, and some strangers who all have an impact on Ove’s life, but are also touched by the time they spend with Ove.

It’s difficult to summarize more about the book without giving away big pieces of the plot, but it is a story that will make you cry and laugh at the same time on several occasions. Imagine a man you would not want to meet in person slowly tugging at your heart strings because you see and understand all he’s been through that’s turned him into the person we read about today. When you learn what his actual goal is, you’ll be shocked and struggle to accept that you want to support him in it. And when the things he’s always wanted but could never quite have suddenly start appearing in his life, you’ll know you can’t help but love the grumpy old man.

Key Thoughts

Fredrik Backman is hands-down one of my favorite character-building authors. Ove has so many levels to him you will lose count trying to guess what he might do in any given situation. His first reaction will almost always annoy you. His second will irritate you beyond belief… could he really have lost all humanity? But by the third or fourth time he encounters a situation, you see the tides turning. That’s where Backman excels. No matter how harsh he makes someone, the character teeters on the edge until they fall sweepingly into your arms as someone you now love and root for.

Despite reading the reviews and guessing enough of the high-level plot from the descriptions, I was not prepared for all the emotions in this book. The story captures different aspects of life and tries to make sense of them in reverse order. We aren’t reading Ove’s past in any logical format or order. It’s bits and pieces, re-told at appropriate points in his current life. In the opening scenes, he’s yelling at an iPad sales clerk… and we think he’s just an irate older man who can’t ‘get with the times.’ But when you learn everything that led up to it, you’ll find so many new connections. The order of the chapters is brilliant. You know people dislike one another, but not why. You find out way after you think you will, and it makes total sense. An author who can keep that going for 300+ pages is phenomenal.

I kept thinking ‘What if Ove meets the main character from The Five People You Meet in Heaven?’ Would they get along? They’re basically the same person, but completely different. From the plot to the story, the dialogue to the narrative, this book will capture your attention, enthrall your senses, tease you, torture you, and in the end, make you wish there were more. I can’t recommend it enough! You’ll even laugh out loud so often, people will look at you quite funny.

Summary

I am so thrilled with my second Fredrik Backman book that I plan to read all of his remaining works this summer. I have a copy of Beartown 2 which I will read next month, but then it will be My Grandmother Asked me To Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie was here. There are others, but those are up next on the spring and summer reading lists. I don’t think I could be disappointed as I am addicted to his writing style and storytelling abilities. He’s definitely in my top 10 favorite authors thus far in my reading lifetime.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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51 thoughts on “Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books said:
    March 12, 2018 at 8:40 AM

    I am so glad you enjoyed this one! It is one of my favourites!! I fell in love with Ove. You have described perfectly how I felt about this book. Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    thewinerywoman said:
    March 12, 2018 at 8:41 AM

    I absolutely love his books. My Grandmother Asked me To Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here are both great. I think you will enjoy them. I hadn’t heard about Beartown Book 2 but am now putting that on my list. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 12, 2018 at 8:51 AM

      Yes! Comes out in June but I received an ARC last week. Can’t wait to start it next month!!!! Thx for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    Katherine said:
    March 12, 2018 at 8:41 AM

    Thanks for the review! I have been wanting to read this for so long, and it’s great to have such a detailed overview of it. It’s been on my TBR list for awhile now.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 12, 2018 at 8:52 AM

      You’re welcome. It’s quite strong. Builds and builds but so much emotion. Beartown drew anger from me whereas this drew humor both are top tho!

      Liked by 1 person

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 9:21 AM

        I have seen so many people talking about the book. I haven’t bought physical books for a long time since joining NetGalley and don’t have more room on my bookshelves: ) It’ll be one for when I have a bit of a break in ARCs coming in. Did ask for the ARC ages ago but was declined

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 9:24 AM

        I was lucky on the ARC. They messaged me based on my review of Beartown on NetGalley. I think they may have only done that instead of traditional ARCs this time. I’m not certain, tho. I tend not to buy physical books anymore either — I’ll get a few as gifts or sometimes at the airport if I don’t like what I chose to read.

        Liked by 1 person

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 9:33 AM

        I bought most of my collection of Jodi Picoult’s books at airports. I do feel some publishers do not give out ARCs freely enough and are very quick to decline. I reviewed Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult) as an ARC and have a signed physical copy from a book event she had. I keep checking NG but seems her books aren’t on there (she has released some shorter ones since and is due a new one in the fall).

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 1:05 PM

        I wonder how/when they decide to use them. Perhaps on her website it lists options on where they have them? Edelweiss, is that another site?

        Like

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 5:21 PM

        I’ll see where I can find them. I’ve looked on her website and am on her mailing list.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 6:58 PM

        Good luck

        Like

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 5:22 PM

        Have heard of Edelweiss too

        Liked by 1 person

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 9:35 AM

        I’m waiting for a physical copy of The Pets at Promrose Cottage (Sheila Norton) in thanks for my ARCs of the serialised version of the novel, plus a few more physical copies of books that were offered as I missed the tours.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 1:06 PM

        I’m not familiar with this story… I will have to look it up, thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

        Katherine said:
        March 12, 2018 at 5:25 PM

        It’s out in April and there’s The Vets at Hope Green which is out (also by Sheila Norton). I missed the tour for Fern Britton’s Coming Home so am being sent a copy of that, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 6:58 PM

        Thx

        Like

    janieleeds said:
    March 12, 2018 at 8:51 AM

    I’m intrigued Jay. I have seen the cover before now, but never picked up the book. It may go on my list. Thanks for the good review. Hope you had fun in NH with W!

    Liked by 1 person

    […] 10th entry off my Book Bucket List:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. You can see the review here. In its place, I’ve added The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn to round out the 12 options for the […]

    Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    March 12, 2018 at 9:18 AM

    I was reading your review and thinking about The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I was amused when I then saw you link the two. I really enjoy character driven books… wonder if I can fit this into my list…

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 12, 2018 at 9:20 AM

      If you’re in need of a touching story filled with both humor and sadness, very easy to read, charming and emotional, you will enjoy it. I can you mail you this copy if you want!

      Liked by 1 person

        The Cozy Pages said:
        March 12, 2018 at 9:27 AM

        Thanks for the recommendation and thanks even more for the offer. I won’t be able to get to it for quite some time though so don’t worry about me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    Books Teacup and Reviews said:
    March 12, 2018 at 10:13 AM

    Great review! Wow, your apartment building has library room! that’s SO AMAZING! Why am I living in India! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 12, 2018 at 1:09 PM

      Yes, I am quite lucky. I find something every week. I’ve put a ban on going there for 6 weeks just until I catch up! Hmm… maybe you need to join a book mail program where you get something in the mail (if it’s inexpensive) so it’s like a surprise!

      Liked by 1 person

        Books Teacup and Reviews said:
        March 12, 2018 at 3:18 PM

        I checked few book mail services with goodies and all available in India but in the price I get 2 books (Hardback) and goodies, I can buy 5 Paperbacks. So ordering on Amazon is only best option. But looking at pile to read, I don’t buy that frequently.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 12, 2018 at 4:56 PM

        I totally understand!

        Liked by 1 person

    Book Club Mom said:
    March 12, 2018 at 4:54 PM

    I’ve only read My Grandmother, which I enjoyed – glad you liked this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    theorangutanlibrarian said:
    March 12, 2018 at 5:16 PM

    Awesome review! It’s so well translated! And I love the characterisation and it was so emotional.

    Liked by 1 person

    Book Admirer said:
    March 12, 2018 at 6:16 PM

    I read this book over the summer and did indeed read it one sitting. I LOVED it! My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was also great. I want to read Bear Town but it’s been out at the library for months and I can understand why. Backman is awesome. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    Martie said:
    March 12, 2018 at 6:45 PM

    A very enlightening review. If interested here is mine on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1816822211

    Liked by 1 person

    Fictionophile said:
    March 12, 2018 at 8:05 PM

    I’m so very pleased that you loved this book as much as I did. I’ve now read all of Backman’s books except “Us against you” which I plan to read within the next few weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    First, I think that’s awesome that your apartment building has a library room! I’ve heard so many positive reviews about this book and now after reading your review, I think I’m going to have to splurge next month. It sounds like a book I want in my personal collection.😊

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 13, 2018 at 7:39 AM

      It will be a very well spent few hours. It’s one you would read again, too. I don’t often reread but this seems like a strong possibility.

      Liked by 1 person

    LA said:
    March 13, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    Love this book!!

    Liked by 1 person

    thebookwormdrinketh said:
    March 13, 2018 at 9:14 AM

    Great review! I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while as well! Lol! Maybe I should actually get to it at some point!

    Liked by 1 person

    Lashaan (Bookidote) said:
    March 16, 2018 at 3:57 PM

    Absolutely fantastic review, Jay. Love the sound of this. The characters sound genuine and amazing, and I love how invested you got reading this. I’d definitely love to give it a shot someday.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      March 16, 2018 at 6:32 PM

      Have you read a Fredrik Backman before? Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

        Lashaan (Bookidote) said:
        March 16, 2018 at 6:41 PM

        Nop! I did hear about Beartown and the hockey stuff it had in it, but I never really tried anything by him. I don’t even think I have any of his books on my TBR. 😮

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        March 16, 2018 at 6:46 PM

        If you like contemporary fiction with intense characters and emotional journeys, he’s a great author.

        Liked by 1 person

    moorezart said:
    March 17, 2018 at 12:39 PM

    Reblogged this on M o o r e z a r t.

    Liked by 1 person

    Rae Longest said:
    March 20, 2018 at 9:10 PM

    Ove is my very favorite curmudgeon, supplanting Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men. The movie is as good as the book (subtitles) probably because it follows the book so closely. It was a selection of my book club, but I was ill and missed the discussion. Now I feel like I’ve had my discussion with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Dhwani said:
    March 25, 2018 at 5:13 AM

    Amazing review!! Great details and i really enjoyed the post.
    I would love to know your views on my posts as well.
    https://themephobicwriter.blog/2018/03/24/live-more-than-once/

    Liked by 1 person

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