A Man Called Ove is about a curmudgeon of an old man who hates everyone and everything that does not act or work the way he wants them to. He sees the world in black and white, right and wrong, useful or useless. He spends his days running through routines that have been set for years and finds interacting with his neighbors to be completely intolerable. Ove has suffered a great loss and is dealing with the passing of his wife. And by “dealing with the passing of his wife” I mean planning his own death so he can be with her. Pretty bleak, right? Enter Ove’s new neighbors, a young couple and their two children who seem to interrupt every attempt Ove makes at finding peace. I would assume the rest of the book is about them weaseling their way into his crusty little heart.
I did not finish this book. I couldn’t do it. I hated it. It pains me to say I hated it because it came highly recommended to me by multiple people and is a New York Times Bestseller with fantastic reviews, but I hated it. Perhaps I didn’t give it enough of a chance, but after sitting down with it every day for days on end and only being able to read a few pages at a time without growing bored or literally falling asleep, I gave up.
A Man Called Ove seems like it could be a very heartwarming story about a man who lost the light of his life only to find it again in a friendship with his new neighbors. I understand that people like reading about that kind of thing. I am not one of those people. I officially gave up at page 129 of 357. Ove was not a likable character and I did not empathize with him. Sure, his backstory was interesting but I felt like it didn’t justify his behavior. I was also shocked to discover he is only 59 yet spends the entire first third of the book acting like he is 95. This book had a slow start and characters that did nothing to catch my attention or make me want to keep reading. The neighbor family was annoying and almost seemed like a caricature or exaggeration of themselves. I also wasn’t crazy about the writing style, as it seemed repetitive and a little over the top to me.
This book has 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so the majority of readers enjoyed it. This type of fiction is not my cup of tea and I was very hesitant to read it in the first place, but clearly A Man Called Ove is doing something right. Maybe between books in the future I’ll try to keep pushing through it and provide another review if I ever finish, but for now I think I’ll put it back on the shelf.
Rating: 2/5, Did Not Finish