A Man Called Ove

Ove, an elderly Swedish curmudgeon, always views the world in black and white, right and wrong. But when the three-year-old next door draws a picture of him, her mother explains to Ove, "You're the funniest thing she knows. That's why she always draws you in colour."

In his quirky, heartwarming debut, Fredrik Backman introduces the world to Ove, who recently lost his wife, Sonja, to cancer and his job to downsizing. Ove lived for both and feels suddenly irrelevant, so he's resolved to commit suicide. Fate has other plans. When they turn to Ove for help, an overweight IT geek, a spirited family new to his neighborhood, a gay young man, an old friend/archenemy and even a stray cat interrupt Ove's meticulous strategy to rejoin his wife in the afterlife.

Backman juxtaposes the seriousness of tragedy with the hilarity of life's unpredictability in a respectful and endearing recitation of Ove's experiences. The chapters alternate between the past and the present; as Ove tries repeatedly to leave this world, readers learn more about his beautiful love story with Sonja.

A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods.

This astounding, colorful debut inspires both laughter and tears: part love story, part crusade, all wonderful. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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