I strongly believe that there are books out there that can change your life. They're few and far between, but they undoubtedly exist - the kind of books that have you sobbing your heart out, the kind of books that you want to make sure everyone reads before they die, purely so they can have that moment of feeling like you did when you finally got to the end and wished that you'd read slower so you didn't have to turn that final page. It's been a while since I've had one of those books - but A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman firmly planted itself as one of those books, and similarly planted itself deep into my heart. Unexpected, but I'm less than displeased by this turn of events.
(TW; Suicide mentions) Reminiscent to me of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time (another life changer to teenaged Sam), I knew I was going to like this from the very start. Written in bursts of chapters dodging between the current day events of Ove and the past that made him the man that he is today - it's hard to like Ove from some chapters, and equally hard to dislike him from others. It follows Ove's day to day life as he plans to kill himself after the death of his wife and how, irritatingly enough for the grumpy man, life seems to consistently get in the way of his death.
It's beautifully written and charming whilst still being frustrating and funny - and I don't know what I'd expected from Ove as a character, but it wasn't a grumpy old man I wasn't even sure I liked until the last chapters of the book. This isn't for the faint hearted; it had me tearing up more than once, and it's strangely emotional for a book that has such a dark, dry humour behind it - but it's a book that I want everyone around me to read, purely because I don't want to stop talking about it any time soon.
This sounds dramatic - but there's not many books I want to sit down with and refuse to put down until I've finished, and that's what I felt like here, as though there was no way I could possibly rip my eyes from the pages until I knew exactly what had happened to Ove to make him the hostile person that he is - both past and present. Beyond that, I found myself gripped by the subplots of the families and people in the houses around him in his area - and by the end I felt invested, as though I'd given something to these beautifully written, strong characters.
I don't know what more to say except read the book - no spoilers, no nothing; just an opinion; read the book, it'll make you think twice about the older people in your life, and it will genuinely make you feel as though something had potentially changed within you. Beautifully written, an even more beautiful story - Backman has knocked it out of the park with Ove, and whoever comes next on my To-Read List definitely has some big shoes to fill.
Have you read A Man Called Ove?