A Man Called Ove–a Book I Hated Then Loved

OveI’ve had a copy of A Man Called Ove in my to-be-read pile for quite a while. Finally, I got an audio copy and began listening to it on a long drive.

I could NOT stand Ove.

There were one or two flickers of seeing something worthwhile in him, but overall, I simply found him to be a miserable human being. And I wondered why so many people raved about this book.

I was tempted to give up, but I had more driving to do and, well, what the heck.

I finished the story last night and I LOVE Ove.

Which, I think, is the point.

A story about a grumpy old man who turns out to have a heart of gold is NOT a new idea. But Frederik Backman managed to take what could have been a simple story of redemption and elevated it to a deep message of hope and love.

Ove was awful at the beginning and he was still pretty awful at the end. I mean, the poor guy who sold him an iPad would not have gone home and talked about dealing with a curmudgeon who was really a marshmallow inside. Ove was vindictive, unbending, impatient, and deeply set in his ways.

And yet. He was also fiercely loyal, ethical, and willing to stand up for what he believed to be right even if it killed him. Backman retained the essence of Ove even after he was redeemed.

Which is why I found this book so ultimately hopeful. The message wasn’t that Ove needed to change, rather it was that Ove needed to be appreciated. He didn’t change so much as the people around him came to see the beauty inherent in this big, tough Swede.

I like that.

Too often, I suspect we think the people around us (especially the people we disagree with) need to change. But maybe, just maybe, if we were willing to understand what makes people see the world the way they do . . . we could–if not agree–at least understand.

And then, perhaps we could see the value in everyone.

11 thoughts on “A Man Called Ove–a Book I Hated Then Loved

  1. I’m glad you finished it even if it had to be read to you. It made me rethink how I have felt about several people in my life, including my dad. We need to put more effort into understanding the gruff, curmudgeonly people in our lives and why they are the way they are.

  2. I love this book. Fredrik Bakman is gifted with the ability to create unique characters that rub us the wrong way, but then you start to cheer for them. Check out “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” to be followed by “Britt Marie Was Here” I loved both these books too.

  3. I think it is easy to see people and what they present on the surface and never try to look any deeper. Maybe we all need to look at each other a bit harder. Thanks for the review, Sarah!

    Mary

  4. You have me so curious, Sarah. And what a testimony to never giving up on a seemingly bad-start book. Oh, change. What a word. We always seem to know what others should act like. I’ll be thinking on this all day. 😄

      • Amen to that. I have family members who are rough. I didn’t always always appreciate them in my younger years. Now, I love them so much the way that God made them. They can’t change their influences that made them the way they are. And they add so much color and laughter to my life. I’m the one that needed changing. ❤

  5. I agree with you! At the end of the novel I realized how much I cared about Ove and all the characters in the story! The theme of family and friendship is so touching. One of my favourite books of all time. 🙂 I actually have a review on my website if you would like to check it out.

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