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A Man Called Ove
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction
A cranky, elderly man must interact with his outgoing neighbors and adjust his singular outlook on life to solve a myriad of neighborhood problems. The result is a heartwarming, uplifting book about overcoming loss and re-embracing life.
Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and Anxious People, as well as two novellas and one work of nonfiction. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. - Author's website
Originally published in Sweden, this charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers. The book opens helpfully with the following characterizations about its protagonist: “Ove is fifty-nine. He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s torch.” What the book takes its time revealing is that this dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon has a heart of solid gold. Readers will see the basic setup coming a mile away, but Backman does a crafty job revealing the full vein of precious metal beneath Ove’s ribs, glint by glint. Ove’s history trickles out in alternating chapters—a bleak set of circumstances that smacks an honorable, hardworking boy around time and again, proving that, even by early adulthood, he comes by his grumpy nature honestly. It’s a woman who turns his life around the first time: sweet and lively Sonja, who becomes his wife and balances his pessimism with optimism and warmth. By 59, he's in a place of despair yet again, and it’s a woman who turns him around a second time: spirited, knowing Parvaneh, who moves with her husband and children into the terraced house next door and forces Ove to engage with the world. The back story chapters have a simple, fablelike quality, while the current-day chapters are episodic and, at times, hysterically funny. In both instances, the narration can veer toward the preachy or overly pat, but wry descriptions, excellent pacing and the juxtaposition of Ove’s attitude with his deeds add plenty of punch to balance out any pathos. In the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden, generous heart. Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* At 59, Ove is a grumble Gus of the first degree. Rules are made to be followed, signs are meant to be obeyed, and don't even get him started about computers and mobile phones. In truth, Ove has been this way his whole life, but he's gotten worse in the last four years since his wife, Sonia, died, taking with her all the color in a world Ove sees as black-and-white. Ove has decided life without Sonia is not worth living and plans to join her in the next world. But a young couple and their two children (a third is on the way) move in next door, his oldest friend and most feared enemy is about to be forcibly removed to a nursing home, and a street-scarred cat insinuates itself into his life. Suddenly, Ove's suicide plans get delayed as he helps solve neighborly crises large and small. Though Ove's dark mission mitigates any treacly upstaging by animals and small children, readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for Most Charming Book of the Year, this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
In this Swedish bestseller, Ove is a lovably miserable neighborhood curmudgeon-think a cross between Up's Carl Fredricksen and Parks and Recreation's Ron Swanson-who spends his days inspecting his community and criticizing others, judging each by how closely he follows rules and his choice of automobile (Ove cannot reason with BMW drivers). After his handicapped wife dies and he is forced to retire from his job, Ove decides he's ready to leave the world behind. But every time he tries to off himself, he's interrupted-first by his new neighbor, the pregnant Parvaneh; then by Parvaneh's clumsy husband, Patrick; Anita, the wife of Ove's former best friend; Jimmy, Ove's overweight neighbor; Adrian, the neighborhood mailman; and finally a mangy feline Ove calls "Cat Annoyance." Ove continuously pushes his demise from one day to the next, and, as time passes, these characters slowly weave themselves into his life, offering Ove a chance at rebirth. The debut novel from journalist Backman is a fuzzy crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love. Though Ove's antics occasionally feel repetitive, the author writes with winning charm. (July)
The Big Finish
by Brooke Fossey
A curmudgeonly senior who would avoid a nursing home forges an unexpected bond with his estranged granddaughter, an abused child who is rapidly succumbing to the alcoholism that once painfully overshadowed his own life.
The Story of Arthur Truluv
by Elizabeth Berg
Making daily visits to the grave of his beloved late wife, Arthur forges unexpected relationships with a nosy neighbor and a troubled teen who dubs him "Truluv" before the trio discovers healing and family together.
The Love Story of Missy Carmicheal
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Reevaluating her past upon finding herself alone at age 79, Missy forges unexpected ties with two strangers and their spirited dog, discovering the power of friendship, family and self-forgiveness along the way.