In Backman’s novel A Man Called Ove, Ove is not your typical protagonist. He is very unhappy and lets those around him know it. He is unhappy with the neighbor cat, with careless neighbors who don’t follow the rules and people who park their cars in restricted areas. By his actions, Ove’s soul appears to be one of darkness and gloom with no hope for the future.
Ove’s many encounters with his neighbors have gained him the reputation of the grumpy old neighbor down the block. One day, new neighbors move next door to Ove. The pregnant woman, her husband and their two children immediately irritate him. But the woman appears to be oblivious in spite of things Ove says. She treats him with kindness, sending her daughters with food, and soon a relationship begins. His cold exterior begins to melt before the reader’s eyes.
We learn the sadness Ove has suffered over the years, but we also see the metamorphosis of this once angry man to one who has begun to appreciate life again. Through Ove’s story, we see how one life can impact another. Don’t give up on A Man Called Ove; it may take the reader a while to get into it, but do read it to the end and you’ll be glad you did.