A Man Called Ove (2015) by Fredrik Backman Review
Ove is a man. He has his ways. Being a curmudgeon, Ove gets annoyed really easily. He does not want to be bothered. He does not like to chit chat, he does not talk to his neighbors, and he does things in a centralized manner. He is not very fond of the world he is living in until one day, some new neighbors move in, that act soon transforming Ove’s life for the better.
I’ll keep this short and sweet: this novel is obnoxious. Ove has parallels to some other “grumpy” yet notable men such as Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol or Carl Fredrisken from Pixar’s film Up, but the way he is portrayed in this novel is unbelievably manipulative. We get it. Ove has had his troubles that makes it difficult for him to connect with the community. What this book does it to present Ove’s past in a way that screams at the reader to pity him and to understand him. The sad thing is, I do. The novel just glorifies in Ove’s past, weaving itself into the present story through alternate chapters, tickling the eyes of the reader and using particular experiences to try to appeal the reader to his character, but it’s hard to empathize with a character that seems to be either sunshine or rain throughout his whole life.
The novel itself is not very endearing as well. The side characters felt unrealistic, mimicking the people from the film The Blind Side, producing an act of kindness and joy at every turn, never depicting the different hardships that come to life. The others felt one dimensional and interchangeable, never really distinguishing one unique characteristic from the other.
The theme of transformation is not done very well here either. Maybe it’s me or I’ve just seen too many stories like this in the past already. The entire plot is predictable from start to finish, the narrative scattered all over the place. The book felt like a tedious puzzle piece where the entire picture is not comprehensible, inducing frustration from the reader as some pieces felt forced and unstably put together.
A Man Called Ove is poorly constructed and unconvincing mainly due to how manipulative this novel is in producing emotions out of the reader. People may find Ove lovable and caring, but the way he was presented in this book both through the present and through the past made him look like a rude sociopath. Put as much jokes and witty dialogue in there, this book will never be sweet. This book will never be feel-good.
Read February 2017