book review: a man called ove

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This book has a weird name. And all the chapters are entitled similarly, “A man called Ove and a brat who draws in color” or “A man called Ove and the bicycle that should have been left where bicycles are left” or “A man called Ove and the lanky one who couldn’t open a window without falling off a ladder.”

I hope this knowledge alone give you enough of the style of the book to make you want to read it. 11/10. Excellent.

Ove is old and wants to die in peace, having been forced abruptly into retirement following the death of his wife. He’s a perfect curmudgeon and accidentally makes friends with his new extremely pregnant Iranian neighbor Parvenah and her husband Patrick (who can’t open the window without falling off a ladder, as above) and their kids.

The book is marvelous. You get Ove’s life story, both the happy and the sad. There’s a wonderful romance unfolding as you learn how he met his beloved wife. You see him grow from a boy into this sad old man. Heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. You will fall in love.

There’s a great deal of diversity in the book, but it’s natural. The author is Swedish and nothing about this book feels forced. Every sentence makes perfect sense with everything else you just read.

You get to see Ove fighting for the things he loves and see his change as they disappear, but you also watch the birth of a deeply meaningful connection. The neighborhood relationships in this book are a challenge to everyone who hides in their garage and pretends their neighbors are just background images. Everyone here comes alive with at least one story explaining who they are and why they have become this version of themselves.

Ove is simultaneously a hero and the thorn in someone’s side. He’s never a villain, but you may want to bop him good a few times. Shut up, crazy old man! (Don’t worry, Parvenah will take care of that.)

Oh, and funny. This book is HILARIOUS! So many wonderfully crafted sentences that just give you a laugh that starts at your toes. Highlights include a cat Ove refers to only as “the annoyance” and Ove punching a clown.