A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Mix grumpy old man, OCD, and a desire to join a dead wife in the afterlife – what you get is “A Man Called Ove”. Ove has a plan to commit suicide after the death of his wife, whom he can’t bear to live without. He plans his actions with such clarity of thought and reasoning, even down to the fact that he doesn’t want to leave a mess for those that will find him and covers the ground with plastic sheeting. Unfortunately for his plans, Ove is joined by a new family next door and a stray cat that continuously interrupt him at the most inopportune moments. Ove finds himself belligerently doing just one more favour for them before he can settle down to complete his own mission.
There are deep implications in this story that cause us to think about the elderly, those that are dealing with grief, loneliness and loss of purpose. How is it that the elderly start to feel excluded and removed from the everyday beat of society. All these issues are delicately woven into this novel to paint a common experience of being widowed and drifting into isolation where the only respite is to end your life.
This, however, is not a story to feel miserable over. There are many times throughout the book I laughed out loud, especially at Ove’s conviction of how things should be and his tetchiness with those who don’t see things his way. Humour in the darkest times often reverberates loudest.
It is ultimately a heart-warming story, as Ove deals with the loss of his wife and just how communities can be supportive and socially uplifting. This is a great book to read and I would highly recommend it.