A Man Called Ove Book Review

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Book Review

Swedish sensation Fredrik Backman has been providing the world with hearty laughs and tender smiles through his runaway international success in A Man Called Ove. It’s a favorite among book clubs and perfect for beach reads. And it helped get me out of a reading slump. Washington Square Press | May, 2015 | Paperback | 337 pp

Ove is a grumpy old man who just wants to die in peace. His wife and the love of his life had recently passed away and he lost his job. Feeling no reason to stick around, he readies himself for suicide. He’s careful, methodical, adheres to a strict schedule, and is a rule follower. And when he’s ready to enact his final plans, his new neighbors throw a wrench in his plans by continuously upsetting his peace.

His new neighbors, a pregnant Iranian immigrant, her Swedish husband, and two children, roll their eyes at Ove’s grumpiness. They violate the neighborhood association’s rules (rules which Ove monitors like a hawk), continuously ask him for help when help is the least likely thing Ove wants to provide, disrupt his peace, and make general conversation in neighborly fashion. More strangely, their children have latched on to Ove, seeing him in a grandfatherly light.

Each time Ove tries to off himself, it seems that Parvaneh is there to stop him. She drives him crazy but at the same time, she gets him to care about his neighbors – even care about a mangy old cat who’s been hanging around his cottage.

Through flashbacks we learn about Ove’s childhood, how his moral code developed, his loving relationship with his wife, and a tragic accident that pushed Ove into isolation. We also learn about his obsession with Saab, his long-standing feud with a neighbor, and his disdain for bureaucrats. When the bureaucratic “white shirts” come for his neighbor, the one he has quarreled with for a quarter of a century, Ove uses his newly revived neighborhood connections to right some wrongs and save his old friend.

Ove’s love for his wife provided a rare glimpse into Ove’s compassion. It was a side of him that no one else saw. The two  seemed to be polar opposites, but they paired well.

“He was a man of black and white.
And she was color. All the color he had.”

A Man Called Ove is just as hilarious as it is emotionally moving. It sweeps the reader away in a tidal wave of varying emotion, all with a smile. I recommend this one to everyone I know, especially the grumpy old people in my life.



Rebecca Skane

Rebecca Skane is the self-instated editor-in-chief for the Portsmouth Review. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Lawrence University in Wisconsin and resides in Portsmouth, NH with her husband and two children. She is the founder of The Portsmouth Book Club which boasts over 1,000 members. She also doubles as a professional escapist. Her genres are scifi and fantasy, both adult and young adult - but she often reads outside of her preferred genres. You can follow her on GoodReads.


  • I have this book on my TBR list. It sounds so good! I’m excited to read it, and I’m glad you liked it.

  • This is another one I’ve been meaning to buy. That quote is beautiful! <3

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