I read this book for a book club that I’m a part of. When we voted on our July selection, I deliberately did not cast mine for this book. Because I just KNEW. I could tell from the description that it was one of those books that was going to make me cry. Apparently this is something that lots of people enjoy however, and I was outvoted.
The titular character is a middle-aged Swedish man named Ove, who has lost his wife and his job in the span of six months. As his life revolved around the love of Sonja, as well as the consistency and routine of his job, he finds himself feeling aimless and without purpose. His solution is to get his affairs in order and end his life so that he can join Sonja.
As this plan is being put in place, a new family moves in next door – Patrick and his pregnant wife Parvaneh, along with their two daughters. They (especially Parvaneh) see through Ove’s excessively grumpy exterior to the kind soul within, and consistently thwart his half-hearted suicide attempts. Along with other neighbourhood misfits, they gradually give him something to live for.
His current reevaluation of life is interspersed with chapters about his past – how the loss of his father shaped his life, how everything changed when he met Sonja, etc.
Overall I really enjoyed this book- the first three-quarters of it moved along at a lilting pace, never really reaching that ‘omg I can’t put this down!!’ status, but then the last couple chapters made up for that with the emotional clobbering that I initially expected. There were tears. Lots of tears – both happy and sad ones. It’s a heartwarming book, but just be sure to have the tissues handy.