Genre: Realistic Fiction, Translated from Swedish
Author and publication date: Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch, English version published in 2013
My rating: 5/5
Quote from the book: “We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if'”
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations
I absolutely loved this book! I read this book last year and it is still one of my favorite books of 2017 and 2018. This story has some dark moments, but it is also contrasted with light and funny moments. The author created characters that were very lovable and dynamic. They were very well described, portrayed and developed. Ove’s grumpy nature and his refusal to change his ways to modern society is interesting and unique. It is rare to find characters that are stubborn and rather critical, yet also loving and inspiring in their conviction of their beliefs. Ove has incredible character development, but he also stays true to himself and his beliefs. His character development makes him a relatable character and it was surprising to me how much I began to care for the character, especially towards the end of the story.
There is also character contrast between Ove and his new neighbors. Specifically, Parvaneh is a caring and energetic person, which contrasts the grumpiness and pessimism of Ove. The book has a strong theme on family, friendship, as well as kindness and love. It focuses on the development of the friendship between Ove and the neighbors as well as Ove’s grandfatherly figure to the daughters of the neighbors.
For me, the story was not predictable and I could not put the book down. It was a fast read as the plot was interesting and well paced. In addition, the message of the book is powerful and the relationships in this story are unique and strong. In addition, the book will make you cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time! It is a must read!
Wow, the book gave me so many emotions. I liked the part when Parvaneh and Patrick first meet Ove, when they scraped the exterior wall of Ove’s house with the car and trailer. Patrick keeps getting cut off from talking by Ove and his efforts of being friendly does not work. I felt bad for Patrick at that moment, I mean he was getting seriously lectured! Also, right when Parvaneh spoke I immediately liked her character. I could tell that she would be energetic, genuine, dynamic, and funny. The first line she said already made me laugh!
” ‘What the hell are you doing?’ Ove roars at the woman. ”
” ‘Yes that’s what I’m asking myself!’ she roars back. ”
I also loved how Parvaneh’s daughters think that Ove is joking and pretending to be grumpy! Near the end of the book, when they drew a picture and wrote ‘to Granddad,’ it was so touching and made me tear up a bit!
One part that made me cry was when Parvaneh takes Ove to the hospital after he loses consciousness. It was the part when the doctor tells Parvaneh that Ove’s heart is too big. I cried because I knew that Ove’s heart condition was serious but I also smiled because (just like Parvaneh implied in the book) the figurative meaning of having a big heart is being a caring and kind person. Ove’s big heart was a symbolism for his caring heart!