CBR Bingo – Rec’d
I picked up Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove after reading Leedock’s review and witcherwill’s suggestion in the comments.
It took me awhile to warm up to the book and its main character. Ove is a widower who lives alone and has a metric ton of quirky habits. He is precise to the extreme. Everything has to be just so. He likes his lines clean and exact. He is excellent at building and repairing things. He gets infuriated by his neighbors ignoring signs he puts up, such as an admonishment not to park their bicycle against a nearby shed. He is stubborn and seemingly humorless. He interacts with people only when they force themselves on him (like his new neighbors, whose cheerful determination and spunky children initially grated).
The story is about Ove’s attempts to kill himself after his beloved, radiant wife dies. He keeps getting thwarted, often because he is put in the position to help someone and he grudgingly does so. The more I read about the character’s frustration with these circumstances, the more I started to like him. I sympathized with his desire to tell people to GTFO—I’m somewhat a loner myself—but also the flickers of desire to connect with them. I liked the parts of the story that go over his past and his happy marriage. I started to really connect with the character, and he became less a series of quirks (presented for laughs) and more a flawed human being doing the best that he can.
In the end I was so into the book that I couldn’t put it down. I think I read it in about a day. The end was totally corny and I didn’t care. Ove was a well-drawn character, and that’s good enough for me.