Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Man Called Ove (Novel)

Friendship. Love. Community. Neighbors. Soulmates. Family. Reconciliation. Cars. Heroes. Cats. Loss. Purpose. Principles. Grief. Men in White Shirts.

While reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, a number of times my body was confused, trying to laugh and cry at the same time. My continuing reading mission is to find books with “good heart. A Man Called Ove has “great” heart, which allowed me many moments of emotional catharsis. I have loved and lost. I too long to have someone who won’t give up on me, who would love me despite my flaws.

Most of us know someone like Ove. Someone we will go out of our way to avoid, who constantly criticizes and seems to find nothing right with the world. In the beginning of the story, Ove feels incapable of living without his beloved wife. He wants only to be reunited with her. But, the world keeps on interfering with his plans. The first distraction in the novel comes in the form of Ove’s new neighbors backing their trailer into his mailbox. The wife, Parvaneh, is pregnant, has two daughters, and has a husband who is DIY challenged. The novel describes the blossoming of Ove’s relationship with the family as well as the other human and feline intrusions into Ove’s life. The novel also tells Ove’s backstory. Backman helps us understand how Ove became “Ove.” We also learn about the unlikely love between Ove and his wife, Sonja. While Ove is the main character of the novel, Parvaneh is the hero. Her fierce refusal to give up on Ove, despite his unpleasantness, is what drives the novel to its heartfelt climax.

After I finished reading A Man Called Ove, I pondered it for a few days. I was reminded of my uncles, who were often brusque but always willing to help. I thought about friendships that had deteriorated. I thought of the cantankerous people in my life, some who I understand and some who I don’t. This would be such a good novel for getting people to talk about some of the heartfelt experiences in their own lives. We so seldom have a place to talk about the things that really matter in our lives.

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