A Man Called Ove reminds me of the protagonist in Disney Pixar’s Up, if only that cantankerous old man had been trying to kill himself throughout the story. Ove, pronounced ooh-vuh, cannot let injustices – like choosing a BMW over a Saab – go unchallenged. He lashes out at those who lack what, in his mind, amounts to common sense and decency.
Much to Ove’s dismay, every time he methodically plans to do himself in, he is interrupted by oblivious neighbors. As we journey with Ove through his life via a sequence of flashbacks, we are reminded that no one becomes so sullen without facing adversity and experiencing loss.
Through Ove’s recollections of his wife, we learn that Ove’s capacity for love is boundless. Descriptions of how she curled her fingers into his palm made me wonder what little habits I have that my husband notices, and I became more mindful of the special mannerisms he has.
I would only recommend this book to mature readers. Though the novel contains no licentious material, it requires a level of emotional maturity and some real life experience to fully understand Ove and the people around him. Because I felt so frustrated with Ove, I didn’t decide that I liked the book until more than halfway through. Ultimately, Ove reminded me that everyone plays important roles in the lives of others – the question is whether or not we will have a positive or a negative impact in the lives we touch.
To read the New York Times review of this book that offers some backstory on the author, click here.