A Man Called Ove
By Fredrik Backman
On the back cover of the edition of A Man Called Ove that I have there is a brief sentence that reads: All you need is Ove. I am pretty sure that the person who wrote this took the line from a Beatles’ song, and changed it from “all you need is love” to the version on the back cover. I have to agree that Ove was all I needed. I absolutely loved this guy! How could anyone not?
Ove definitely was rigid, stuck in his ways, had a temper, and a black and white view of the world. He had a set routine, which included being up at a specific time each day, no alarm clock needed, thank you very much, and would leave his house through the front door to do an inspection of his residential complex. Pity the person who parked in the wrong spot or didn’t keep belongings stored where they belonged. He did become very upset when he found a stray bike leaning up against the wall. He also was a bit OCD because when he checked doors to ensure they were locked, he pulled the handle 3 times.
Imagine what happens when a young couple with two small children move in next door. It’s bad enough that they were loud and the wife was a foreigner, but did they have to run over his mailbox and scrape the siding of his house while backing up their moving van? What’s the matter with these young people today? Normal society is going to Sheol in a handbasket! Ove is sure of this. He ends up pulling the driver out of the foreign car he is driving (Foreign car? Anyone who drives a foreign car just is not functioning on all cylinders. The Saab is the only vehicle to own, according to Ove. Everyone should know that.) and parks the moving van properly himself.
Ove had only two loves in his life, his job and his amazing wife, Sonya. He is forced to retire at 59, which makes him feel useless. Sonya is dead now and he misses her each day. He misses her so much that he wants to join her now. He doesn’t see any need for hanging around this world any longer. He decides upon suicide. And while suicide is a really serious matter, the way the author writes about it is hilarious. That is only because Ove plans out carefully what he is going to do, gets ready, and is always interrupted by the most obnoxious people or events. And the people always want him to do something he doesn’t want to do, interrupting his plans. Despite his protests, the other person always wins out. For example, the pregnant Iranian woman next door insists Ove drive her husband to the hospital after he falls off the ladder while trying to fix a second story window. At the hospital he gets mad about something and punches the security guard. Ove is banned from the hospital premises. He will be driving back and forth to the hospital on several occasions during the book, and he will always have to wait outside. Another attempt to join Sonya on the other side is foiled when a neighbor whom he has been feuding with needs help with getting the furnace working.
Computers, people who don’t know how to fix things, benders, and teenagers rub Ove the wrong way, as do people who drive through areas that say no driving allowed, and people in white shirts who represent bureaucracy and stupidity. Yet, they all manage to insert themselves into his quiet, well-ordered life turning it upside down.
Yes, it is true. All you need is Ove. I absolutely loved this novel!! It was a totally delightful tale. 5 out of 5 stars for sure. It has earned a prominent place on my bookshelf.