Project Warm Heart: A Man Called Ove

I’m ever suffering through this late July weather. One day it’s blazing heat; the next it’s severe thunderstorms (There’s Mississippi weather for you). The good news for my health is that I’ve finally conquered my life-long addiction to Diet Coke. That means I haven’t been without any other form of caffeinated beverage by my side, and I’m not now. Today, it’s chai tea with almond milk and a spoonful of agave nectar (Yes, I hate how basic that last sentence sounded too). So pull up a chair and your poison of choice for today’s book review! I’ve zipped through yet another on my Buzzfeed list.

After reading this last book, I don’t know if I should be worried. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman was definitely one of the most heart-warming books I’ve ever read, and I’m far from being recovered from it. I hate you, Buzzfeed (Just kidding, I still love you…ugh!). This book struck a chord with me, and it was my own dang fault. In A Man Called Ove, you’re introduced to Ove (I’m not kidding), your typical 59-year-old grumpy man. He’s exceedingly bitter, sarcastic, and from all sides barely tolerable. From the moment I read his description, one person came straight to the forefront of my mind: Ben.

For those of you wondering who the heck Ben is, let me clear up the confusion. He’s my fairly new stepdad who I’ve mentioned before in a previous post. From the start of the novel, Ove was an exact replica of Ben. Ben is a (lovable) grumpy grump. He grumbles and fusses, yet he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet once you win him over. To the unknowing eye, you’d think he was a sour, unsatisfied man, but you’ll soon find out that it’s all a facade. He’s secretly happy under all those withering looks. Like Ove, Ben is usually quiet and not extremely forthcoming about his opinions and thoughts, but once you get him talking, you can’t get him to shut up. He’s sarcastic, witty, and blunt which means he and I get along fabulously.

Back to the book (Sorry, I got a bit carried away)…from the second I met Ove, I immediately made the mistake of picturing Ben. When Ove’s every thought, word, or action were the least bit irritable, Ben’s face came into view every time. You soon find out the tragedy of Ove’s life which endeared him to me even more. As the book flashes back and forth to Ove’s past and present-day life, you begin to realize why he is the way his is. His bitterness is well-earned in my opinion, but reading how he trudged through every trial that life threw at him nearly brought me to tears (frequently). He finds unlikely allies in his new neighbors and, to his ire, finds things to hold onto in his rapidly modernizing suburban community. His pushy and lovable new “friends” force him to be somewhat kind or to shut up (We all need these friends in our lives). With every interaction, Ove is faced with consequences of his brusque ways, and (begrudgingly) forms a fragile acquaintance with these new intruders he has to call neighbors.

Now that I’ve finished the emotional roller coaster of a book that is A Man Called Ove, I find myself appreciating Ben more than I thought possible. Yes, it’s true that his and Ove’s lives are in no way similar, and he did not suffer the things Ove suffered, but his bitterness and sarcastic glares are more dear to me all the same. I think after reading this book, everyone can think of someone who fits the model of Ove. Someone crabby yet lovable; this book will make you appreciate them even more. And,  yes, despite my resistance, this book did an impeccable job of warming my frozen heart. I recommend A Man Called Ove to each and everyone of you who has their own Ove (And if you don’t have one, I suggest you get one).



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