“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the colour he had”.
At first glance, it is easy to assume that Ove is perhaps the grumpiest man on Earth. There are several topics for which Ove’s beliefs are unwavering: that one absolutely must drive a Saab, that there is no reasoning with someone who drives a BMW, that there will be no cars in the residential area, and that people in the modern age do not understand the true worth of a life committed to hard work. Amongst these ideals, however, shined the beacon of light that was his wife Sonja. So when she passes away, Ove is convinced he has nothing left to live for and makes a commitment to himself that he must do everything in his power to be with her again. That is, until, a trailer is reversed into his mailbox, and Ove has no choice but to stick around a little longer than he originally planned…
With chapters that alternate between flashbacks and the present-day narrative, Fredrik Backman has masterfully crafted this book with the perfect balance of humour and sentimentality. I absolutely loved the narrative style, which made for incredibly easy reading but also warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud during many of Ove’s ridiculous grumblings about the state of society. It is clear very quickly that beneath Ove’s prickly exterior shines a heart of pure gold, even if he doesn’t quite realise this himself.
The rich tapestry of secondary characters was perhaps my favourite thing about this book. Whilst there was a large amount of supporting characters, they were all fleshed out brilliantly and it was easy to form a really vivid image of them in my mind. Watching the way Ove’s story weaved with all of their dramas was both touching and hilarious, forming what is essentially a love story of friendship and ultimately forces a reason to live upon Ove without him ever having been given a choice in the matter.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone in need of a heartwarming, beautifully written story about the meaning of friendship and all the small things that make a life worth living. That being said, there is a large amount of potential triggers (see list at the bottom of this review) which can often be difficult to read. I will certainly be picking up more of Fredrik Backman’s work in the near future, with high hopes that they will be equally as heart-wrenching and gorgeous as this one was. A very easy five stars from me.
Trigger warnings: loss of parents, loss of partner, attempted suicide (multiple), disability, Alzheimer’s disease, miscarriage, homophobia, racial / homophobic slurs, cancer