Book review

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman book review

A Man Called Ove review @ Chocolate and Chapters

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars ★★★
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Source: Gift

Ove is an older man who lives alone. He is a grouch. Since the death of his wife, he’s not sure what to live for. He cares very much about things being done “the right way,” which he believes the new generation fails miserably at. In fact, he feels everyone fails miserably at basically everything. One day, a chatty couple with two chatty children move in next door. The young mother, an Iranian immigrant, immediately sees through Ove’s tough exterior to the little bit of jelly in the middle. And Ove’s life becomes a roller coaster ride from there.

I believe I’m one of few people who didn’t quickly give this book 5 stars after finishing it. Because honestly, I didn’t love it. Trust me, I am more surprised about this than anyone.

The main reason I didn’t like this book was Ove… To call him “bitter” is an understatement. Because if we’re really being honest, Ove is mean. Yes, he lived a tough life and has lost his one true love. But he also yells and goes on angry tirades and calls people names. Especially sales associates at stores. Yes, we’re supposed to forgive him all of this because of his hard life and because he starts doing kind things for his neighbors.

But here’s my problem: I have been that sales associate. I have been called names, yelled at, and been treated like I am stupid. It doesn’t feel good.

So all through this book when Ove is calling these innocent people names and being an extremely unpleasant human being, I was thinking of how the people he’s interacting with are feeling. Because when you’re being yelled at and called an idiot, you don’t care that the old man who is yelling at you loved his wife. People shouldn’t treat other people this way.

I am well aware that Ove’s grumpy interactions are meant to be funny, but it just never worked for me.

That being said, this book isn’t all bad. There are plenty of good things about it. I loved Ove’s relationship with Parvaneh. She is a strong, intuitive woman who anyone would be lucky to know.

This book is very diverse, too. Race, disabilities, sexual orientation. It’s all here. So if you’re looking for a diverse read, this would be a good pick.

So there’s good and bad here. Most people love it so I imagine I’m in the minority here. But still, if I had a negative emotional reaction to a book, I can’t ignore it. Oh well.


12 thoughts on “A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman book review

  1. Thank you!!! I was not impressed with this book, and I felt like there was something wrong with me since everyone else loved it. I work at a library and have to work with the public, so I totally get how you felt reading this book. I didn’t think it was as charming as most people seemed to think. But like you, I didn’t think it was terrible. I also probably would’ve given it a 3/5 since I felt like sometimes the characters were instead caricatures without much substance. Did you feel like that?

    P.S. I love your use of .gifs 🙂


    1. Yeah, I probably was a little generous with my 3 star rating. I think it was more “okay” than “I liked it,” but I could still see why some people would like it more than I did?? Ehh, I don’t know.

      And yes, I definitely see what you mean about the characters being caricatures without much substance. Definitely! I also thought that the amount of diversity was a little TOO much, which sounds ridiculous probably. But people of different races, sexual orientations, AND disabilities? It was just a lot at once, in my opinion. Like the author wanted to throw in as much diversity as possible…

      I’m happy to find someone who feels the same way about the book as I do! You’re the only one I’ve found so far!


      1. Yeah I feel the same way about the rating. I feel bad giving 1 or 2 stars…but really? Who cares lol. If it’s how I feel, it’s how I feel. So I’ll revise my rating to a 2. 🙂

        I completely get what you mean about too much diversity. I think that diversity would have been wonderful had it not been like, oh here’s the disabled character, here’s the gay character. They weren’t rounded characters but seemed to be defined by their race/religion/sexual orientation/abilities. Frustrating!


        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I’m not alone! I thought I’d publish the review and a ton of people would just disagree with me and say how great it was. It’s refreshing to see I wasn’t the only one who thought it wasn’t amazing!


  2. Every time I see this book, I think of my friend named Ove lol. But hmm, yeah, I don’t feel like characters should get a free pass to be a jerk just because they’ve had hard times because lots of people have hard times and are still kind. And people don’t deserve to be treated badly just because the other person has had a hard life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, EXACTLY! I have seen other bloggers say that he’s unlikable, but once they learned about his past, they were easily able to forgive him for being so unpleasant. But I just couldn’t…


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