A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, New York : Atria Books, 2014.
Meet Ove. He’s a man of routine and habits. Every morning involves a walk of the neighborhood, checking doors are locked and things are in their proper place. And why not? Things work better is there is a set way to do things. He might be known as “the bitter neighbor from hell” but that’s only because he knows the right and proper way that things should be done. Plus, those people who walk around with smiles plastered on their faces are the ones you need to look out for.
So when a chatty young couple move into the neighborhood and start off by driving a trailer through his garden bed and scratching his house, which is also a violation of resident’s association rules, Ove must intervene to protect his property. Who could predict that one action would open him up to all of the neighbors starting to bother him?
As Ove gets sucked into his neighbor’s problems, one after the other, the story of how he became a cranky old man is slowly revealed. He has good reason for being the way he is, and is irritated when his personal philosophy forces him to help when asked instead of justifying keeping to himself. And who would have thought that going to the train tracks for his own reasons would lead to rescuing a stranger that passed out and fell onto the tracks. And that infernal reporter in pursuit of an interview with a local hero who won’t leave him alone because of it.
Fredrick Backman does an amazing job of providing a light-hearted, entertaining read that is so enrapturing that readers will have difficulties putting it down. Ove is the crusty, loveable grandfather that you wish you had, who’s always there when you need a hand but will grumble and groan about ‘young people not being able to do it themselves anymore.’
Susana Goldman is the Library Director of the Alamance County Public Library. She can be reached at (336) 513-4753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.