I’m definitely binge-reading all of this man’s novels. They are so completely riveting and addicting. The emotional depth—so far beyond many things I’ve read.
I loved “A Man Called Ove” and “Beartown” and just finished its sequel “Us Against You” (review still to come!) — but this has been my favorite of all the books. Which is saying something because I’ve RAVED about each.
Told from a child’s perspective, this book sneaks a story around the things she’s allowed to overhear and the things she’s figures out. There are so so so so so many emotionally powerful “big reveals” in this book. I feel like I can’t tell you anything because everything is ALMOST a spoiler.
I love the dog, who you see on the cover, because he has HUGE personality. By the way, he isn’t a dog, but rather a mythical creature called a Wurse from a mythical land the girl’s grandmother made up. We are told the dog looks like he wishes he had a newspaper when he does his business. Hilarious! I have some concerns about his diet, though, as the girl basically only feeds him cookies and unbaked cake batter.
All the characters in the book, similar to Ove, have incredibly complex back stories. But you aren’t labored reading them. They are so believable. This author’s greatest gift is introducing lifelike people. I honestly strain to call them characters. I feel like I’m talking about people I know.
Mother-child relationships are at the heart of this story. There’s a fair bit of very fun mischief, a lot of secret (or not so secret) languages, and a lot of hidden meaning in fairy tales. Unlikely heroes. Unexpected villains. Surprising friends and warrior-comrades. You will be swept away, laughing out loud SO hard but also weeping at the depth of real life happening around this young child. Everyone’s actions make sense because you know and understand so much about them and their life journey. It’s a long, fascinating glimpse into WHY people do what they do.
I read a review of Backman’s work that said “your heart is always safe in his hands.” That’s a good capture of the experience of reading his novels. You will cry, and a lot, but you aren’t left empty. You are fulfilled.
Huge recommendation. Read this book. I loved it.