A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is a predictable story of a grumpy old man who turns out to have a heart of gold. I do not consider this statement to be a spoiler because it is so very clear from the start how this book will go.

Ove is a hard-working, decent, honest man who likes rules and who gets annoyed by incompetence, bureaucracy, disrespectfulness and idiots. Who doesn’t, though?

When a new family moves in to the house next door all sorts of things change for Ove and his life is opened up to new experiences and lots of new(ish) people. Relationships with neighbours he has known for years get re-examined and the reader gets taken on a rollercoaster of emotions.

I can totally get behind Ove in terms of all that goes through his head. People are mostly irritating, except for perhaps your significant other, who is the only person who even vaguely gets you, and even they sometimes wonder what the hell you are on about. But I do not like Ove, and, even as we see his positive side, I cannot like him. Because he is rude. He actually says what he is thinking, which just isn’t on.

Judging by other reviews this is supposed to be a “feel-good” story. It did not really do that for me. I still felt a little bit sorry for him, but I mostly wanted to give him a good shake and a lecture about manners costing nothing. If nothing else, this book should make the reader think a little more about what other people might be going through, and make us all be a little bit nicer to each other.

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