A Man Called Ove is a story about love, loss, friendship, compassion, second chances, and the importance of friends and community. One will get the feel of urban Swedish life in this novel and the narration is a perfect example of the show-don’t-tell style of story writing.
Ove, the protagonist, inherits a Saab and a rundown house from his father who passed away when he was a young boy. The story is peppered with memorable characters, who unknowingly helped Ove to cope with his loss and grief. He believed that doing the right thing is extremely important. Ove, a disciplined man, saw the world in black or white and lived on rigid beliefs about right and wrong. The way he evaluated the world was humorous and insightful. It is a warm and tender story of how kindness, love and happiness can be found in the most unlikely places, amongst the most unlikely people.
The story is a funny, uplifting tale of love and the bond that a community shares. It is heartbreaking when Ove loses the will to live after his wife’s death. His wife Sonja has been the buffer between him and the world. After her death, he found it difficult to cope with the outside world and fight his inner turmoil. A few months later, after his wife passed away, he made careful preparations to hang himself. But his efforts got interrupted repeatedly by some nosy neighbours who had no hunch of his intentions. They were troublesome and noisy, but gradually, Ove strikes up an unlikely and unwanted friendship with the family. Parvaneh, the lady of the Iranian family living next door, changes his perspective, his outlook about life and various other things. The significance of the cat somewhat reminded him of his wife’s reactions and thoughts. His love for his wife, his lifestyle and his values were expressed beautifully by the author. The sarcasm in Ove’s thoughts was spot on.
He was a widower, who lashed out at his neighbours each time they violated the rules; rules set as per his perception of how things should be. The story of youth and ageing, and how immigration was changing the face of the communities was highly engaging. The author has thoughtfully shown how knowing your neighbour and being a part of a community is important. At the same time, he has shown how the changing values and standards of living was changing the landscape of the country. The author showed how easy it is to become isolated and depressed in this present world. At the same time, he also showed us how easily we can be lead back to a brighter, and more connected world through simple human connection and affection. I think this aspect has been quite prominent and relatable since the start of the recent pandemic.
A few of my favourite parts from the story:
“Every human being needs to know what she’s fighting for.”
“You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away,”
“You miss the strangest things when you lose someone. Little things. Smiles.”
“It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for a very long time.”
A Man Called Ove is a delightful read; right from the start till the last line. I am charmed by Ove. I found a bit of Ove in myself and I think we will all see a bit of Ove in ourselves. Or lucky to realize that we have someone like Ove around us. If not, the story will make you wish to meet someone like him. It’ll tug at our heartstrings. It’ll inspire and make you ponder. Go, read it today. You’ll be glad you didn’t miss it.
Buy the book here: