Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Book Cover
Book: A Man Called Ove
Date of Publication: August 27, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Humour, Adult Fiction

Rating: ★ 

This is a spoiler free review.


A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.


“He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.”

Ove has always been a little hard to get along with, but he has become even more irascible since his wife (Sonja) died. No one understood him like her and he has no companion but the one true love of his life, he spends his mornings at Sonja’s grave, carrying flower and sharing with her all that crosses his mind, just as persistently as in Sonja’s life.

As you have already gathered from the synopsis, Ove shouldn’t be a character that we love. He is so miserable, grumpy and skeptical of everything… but I did find him hilarious. I love Ove. I got so much attached to his moments of truth, sharing, and caring that it made it hard to overcome the tale I had believed it to be only about a man trying to survive the day without his dead wife. But this story is so much more. It is the kind of story that sneaks right into your heart even if you think you have a heart of stone. It will use its wittiness and it’s likable Scandanivian style, it’s grumpy protagonist and it’s amazing cast of characters and their moments of pure sadness to make you love it forcefully.

It’s predictable and sometimes a bit melodramatic but it will make you laugh and cry and you’ll be glad that you met Ove.

Favourite quotes from the book:

“But Ove isn’t bloody arguing. He just thinks right is right. Is that such an unreasonable attitude to life?”

“And if you could just go and buy everything, what was the value of it? What was the value of a man?”

“Straight lines, even edges. People don’t shovel snow that way anymore. Nowadays they just clear a way, they use snow blowers and all sorts of things. Any old method will do, scattering snow all over the place. As if that were the only thing that mattered in life: pushing one’s way forward.”

“But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.”


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2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”

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