Friday, October 13, 2017

Audiobook Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Release Date: August 5th, 2014
Length: 9 hours, 9 minutes

Genre: Fiction / Humor


Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon - the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him 'the bitter neighbor from hell.' But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


What Did I Think About the Story?

From the very first minute I started listening to the audiobook version of A Man Called Ove I knew that I was going to enjoy it. When the story begins we see Ove trying to purchase an iPad at an Apple store and getting incredibly frustrated in the process. This experience not only had me laughing but instantly made me think of my own grandfather and how much of a loveable curmudgeon he was when he was alive. From this moment on I had a soft spot for Ove, even when he was not always the nicest guy, and delighted at his increasingly frustrated interactions with his hodge podge of neighbors. What I didn't expect, and absolutely adored, was the heartfelt and even heartbreaking backstory that unfolded.

I don't want to say too much and give anything away, but Ove's life has not been a consistently happy one. He's had many hard knocks over the years and, even when his life is sprinkled with happiness, it always seems to be tinged with heartache. He's come to the point where he's made a decision in his life and he is determined to follow through with it. After all, it's his life and he doesn't answer to anyone, does he? Well, as it turns out he does seem to have people to answer to, and those people refuse to let him get away with any shenanigans. Those people, much to Ove's dismay, are a collection of loud, opinionated, and sometimes slovenly neighbors (and a cat!) and they will change his life in some unexpected ways.

The best part of this story is the vivid and often hilarious extended cast of characters. Seriously, his neighbors had me cracking up as he tried to push them away and they kept coming back for more. Whether that was his pregnant neighbor who sweetly demanded he help her when she needed it, or the jovial overweight neighbor who refused to let Ove's jabs break his smile, or even the cat who didn't take any crap from Ove and, therefore, earned his respect, they all began to break down Ove's icy walls and made him realize that he isn't alone in the world. That, while the world isn't perfect, it can be wonderful in it's imperfections.

The narrator, George Newbern, was great and somehow perfectly expressed Ove's continued frustration, whether it was real or, as became true towards the end, somewhat faked to keep his image as a no-nonsense fellow intact. He gave unique voices to all of the characters, which I always find amazing, and seemed able to express heart and humor in turn as was necessary. I've never listened to an audiobook narratored by Mr. Newbern before but I'm going to make a point of looking for more.

A Man Called Ove was so much more than I expected. To be honest I don't think I had a lot of expectation regarding the story to begin with, but once read I now want to read more by this author. He has a way of capturing a unique sort of humanity, both uplifting and heartbreaking. Highly recommended!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's okay. I found it somewhat odd at first - Ove being turned away from our view  - but I've since discovered that the covers of all books by this author have the characters turned away. I'm not sure why, other than to allow us to visualize them as we see fit, but regardless it doesn't really draw me to the cover. Other than that it's somewhat plain. I do like the cat though.

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

I borrowed a copy of A Man Called Ove from my library's Overdrive account. All opinions are my own. For more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, go to Goodreads HERE.

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