“A Man Called Ove” is a simple story of a man, Ove, who has a very clear sense of right and wrong. Ove is competent and efficient and hardworking. He is also cranky and curmudgeonly and thinks everyone around him is a nitwit. Which, of course, they largely are.
Ove broke my heart. Inside the crusty exterior is a man of surpassing capacity to love. He is loyal, honest, sincere, regimented, and difficult. Ove is, as they say, the kind of man they don’t make anymore. His life seems destined for a particular path, until a new family moves in next door. The family has a pregnant wife, a hapless husband, and two rowdy children who find Ove hilarious. Largely through the wife’s ability to see underneath Ove’s exterior, everyone’s life is changed as a result of the relationship.
I’m not much of a crier (though I admit to being much more of a crier not that menopause a/k/a reverse-puberty has reared its hot-flashing head) but this book made me cry. Like big, ugly sobs that lasted for a while after I put it down. This is not like me. And I think it largely happened because it did not try to make me cry. I’m not a Hallmark movie kind of girl. I don’t like having my emotions manipulated. I don’t like melodrama or predictable, formulaic plots.
But I loved Ove. I want Ove to be my neighbor, my friend, and in my life. Fredrick Backman’s sparse, lovely prose is a thing of beauty. He shows you Ove, he doesn’t tell you what to think about him. There are refreshingly few adjectives and adverbs in this book. Things are simply as they are.
And they are beautiful.
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