A Man Called Ove (pronounced oo-veh) by Fredrik Backman tells the story of a “curmudgeon.” He’s a stickler for the rules, keeps a strict and simple way of life, and is quick to lose his temper. This is a tale of unlikely friendships and their profound impact on one old grump’s life. It’s a heartwarming novel that reminds us not to judge a book by its cover (or a person!).
“You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away.”
The novel illustrates some of life’s most important lessons, especially the importance of kindness. The above quote is a major theme in A Man Called Ove, reminding us all that compassion and patience can make the world of difference in someone’s life – and we might not even realize it. I think we all encounter a person like Ove in our lives and it can be difficult to show compassion for such personalities. However, A Man Called Ove shares how sometimes the oddest friendships are exactly what we need in life. From his belated wife, Sonja, to his pushy neighbor, Parvaneh, Ove’s path in life was forged by keeping an open (even if rigid and grumpy) heart. While Ove comes across several new and unlikely friends, my particular favorite is the relationship he forges with a neighborhood stray cat, who seems (to me) to be a symbol of Sonja.
Throughout the novel, we meet Sonia in flashbacks. In my opinion, this was the best part of the novel because Backman so beautifully articulates just how much Ove loved Sonia. I’ll leave a few of my favorite quotes describing her here:
“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.”
“Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.”
“He went through life with his hands firmly shoved into his pockets. She danced.”
This is probably one of my favorite books of all time and definitely a top read of my 2017 bookshelf. I read a digital version of A Man Called Ove for free from my local library, you can also get it here.