Book Reviews, Contemporary

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


When I picked up A Man Called Ove, I was anticipating a story about a grumpy old man, what I wasn’t anticipating were the tears of happiness when I finished…

AManCalledOveAuthor:  Fredrik Backman

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Version: Audiobook (9h 9min listening length)

Narrator: George Newbern

Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC

Source: Hoopla

Amazon Goodreads

Book Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

When my book club selected A Man Called Ove for our September book selection, I was thrilled!  I had heard good things about this book, and was excited to see what the fuss was about.  First off, lets talk about the elephant in the room.  How the heck do you pronounce “Ove”?  Well it is actually pronounced “OO (as in too)-Vuh.”  Don’t believe me?  Here is a video on how to pronounce it → How to pronounce “Ove”.  It’s Swedish.  This threw me for a loop when I first heard the name said on the audiobook…Not going to lie, I’m still scratching my head about it.

Enter Ove, a seemingly grumpy old man with strict values and a distrust of everyone and everything.  When we first meet Ove, he is having a hard time adjusting to his new life.  Ove is not only mourning the loss of his wife, Sonja, but has now been forced into an early retirement.  Ove is the type of no-nonsense man who thrives on schedules, discipline, and hard work.  Now that Ove has been rendered obsolete, he no longer feels he has a purpose in life.

Alternating between the present and the past, Backman only gives us glimpses into who Ove really is, thus we get to know Ove gradually over time.  At first, you may think that Ove is just stringent, however as you learn more and more about Ove, you may find your opinion of him soften. A key theme in A Man Called Ove is not to judge a person before you know their story.  I’ll be the first to admit that I thought Ove was just a grumpy old man with a stick up his bum, but as we learn more about Ove’s back story, things all become clear.

The cast of eccentric characters are what make this book so great.  Just to name a few: Parvaneh – the pregnant foreign woman, Patrick – Parvaneh’s clumsy husband, Rune – Ove’s best friend and arch enemy, Jimmy – the overweight neighbor, Adrian – the young man saving up for his first car, Mirsad – the gay barista, and let’s not forget the stray cat who worms its way into Ove’s heart.  They all come together to make an unlikely family.

I particularly adored the love story between Ove and his wife, Sonja.   People didn’t understand their relationship, and even questioned Sonja why she was with Ove, but it really is true what they say: opposites attract.  I think my favorite part of their relationship was that it was so quietly beautiful and understated.  Ove wasn’t the type of man to display public affection, but rather, the type of man to show his love through more practical ways.

I found this book to be charming and subtly funny.  It reminded me that there is a story behind every person, and to get to know people before I pass judgement upon them.  A Man Called Ove is a slower paced book, so if you are looking for a quick paced read full of action, this is not the book for you.  However, if you are looking for a book that will give you the “feel-goods,” than pick this one up.  This is also a wonderful book for a book club selection.  My book club had a lovely discussion on life, aging, and how we each have our own Ove’s in our lives.
I bawled like a baby at the end, but they were tears of happiness.  I wasn’t expecting this book to tug at my heartstrings the way it did.  I wish Ove was my Grandfather, or at the very least, be his annoying next door neighbor.  I feel like we would make quite a pair.  I don’t know about anyone else, but for some reason I pictured Ove as Clint Eastwood. Anyone else?  They need to do a film adaptation here in the U.S. and they need to call Clint.  Yes, I know I am a genius.  They may want to do it sooner rather than later since he is 85+ years old… Just a thought.

Noteworthy Quotes:

“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”

“One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.”

“But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.”

“Because you are not a complete twit.”

My Rating:

5-Star Rating System

About the Author:

fredrik-backmanFredrik Backman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here.  All three books were number-one bestsellers in his native Sweden and are being published in more than twenty-five languages.
He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.


25 thoughts on “Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”

  1. This sounds great – nothing better than a good read with a bunch of eccentric character – I can think of a few books with such characters and they’re books that I loved.
    Nice that you really enjoyed this.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great review! I’ve wanted to read this book forever now… You just made me wanna get to it sooner! I had no idea it had such a wide range of diverse characters. That’s really awesome. And yes, I’ve been pronouncing the name wrong too!! I thought it was pronounced like “cove” minus the C. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda!!! I had a feeling you would end up loving this book, I’ve heard such amazing reviews. It’s def going to be a November pick for me since that’s the mth that I slow down with my reads. My husband sounds like he’ll be an Ove in his golden years, he’s got the curmudgeon part down packed 😂😂😂 that cast of characters though! YESSS!!! I love when authors give us people from all walk of life & they all sound so interesting. I plan on picking this one up soon along with My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry & Britt-Marie Was Here which follow the same character (Britt). She is Ove the female version it seems LOL. Awesome review as always, just sorry that it took me a bit to get here 😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was such a cute book. I wish they would do an English version of this movie, but I guess we are going to have to settle for subtitles. I will definitely be looking into Backman’s other books. Can’t wait to see what you think!


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