Rated Reads

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

Rated: Moderate

Ove has lived in the same tract house for over four decades with his wife, Sonja. They have watched the surrounding forest slowly be sacrificed to provide space for more homes, and have seen numerous families come and go over the years. The only stable neighbors have been Rune and Anita, with whom they have shared many experiences and occasional disagreements.

Over the course of their life together, Sonja and Ove have developed a very close, yet comfortable, relationship, and Ove now focuses on his daily routine: neighborhood inspections, monitoring power consumption, looking out for parking violations, and similar efforts. He has come to see himself as the last guardian of honor and reliability in a world increasingly focused on personal pursuits. He is neither happy nor unhappy; he simply is.

When an outgoing young family moves in across the way, nearly all of Ove’s firmly held beliefs are put to the test. He is a man of few words, but he does not shy away from speaking his mind. He also has absolutely no fear of facing the consequences of his pronouncements (and actions), and that is where many of the conflicts arise in this absolutely fun read from Sweden.

Backman has crafted an intricate tale around an absolutely fascinating personality, the type of which is not found anywhere else in the literary world. His Ove is part curmudgeon, part policeman, part saint and part engineer. We readers get to follow Ove all over the neighborhood and town as we learn his backstory and watch him interact with people he does not understand in the slightest, and anxiously anticipate how he will react this time. Even after multiple chapters, Ove does not become predictable, yet neither does he really change. I believe it is nearly a miraculous example of writing skill, and the flow is so smooth, it becomes very difficult to put down.

Take a couple of days and come get to know Ove; it is practically guaranteed that you have never met anyone like him before, and you will certainly miss him when the story is over.

Rated: Moderate. A single f-bomb and a handful of mild terms are the only coarse language in this work. There are no intimate descriptions of any personal relationships at all.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

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  • A Man Called Ove
  • by Fredrik Backman
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: