Ove is a grumpy, older man, defined as such because he lives his life by a code that’s pretty black and white and inflexible. His point of view has also been shaped by a system that’s often been cruel and unfair and has let him down at critical times in his life. But, there is one person who’s never disappointed him and that’s his wife, Sonja. Unfortunately, she recently died after 40 years of marriage and now he’s also forced into retirement. When a new family moves in next door, they disrupt Ove’s life in a way that has a profound impact.
I was utterly taken with the curmudgeonly Ove from the start. Many other reviewers were thrown by his age (59), thinking he was much older. But I have Oves in my life and they didn’t suddenly arrive grumpy when they became of that age. It was progressive and they had wives like Sonja to smooth out those edges when out in the world.
I don’t think it was happenstance that a street-savvy cat, a family with young children and messy lives, a former friend-turned-adversary now in need, and two young men who are misfits in the world all collide to redefine Ove’s world. Underneath the humor (there are some truly hysterical moments) lies a lot of sadness, loneliness and heartbreak that Ove has masked by being difficult. The author masterfully juxtaposes backstory into the present at just the right moments, giving Ove layers and definition.
So many of my friends have read this story and encouraged me to add it to my shelf. I’m so happy I heeded their advice as I found it spiritually uplifting. And, it comes at the right time for me personally. I opted for the audio and that really worked for me though I was expecting a Swedish narrator. I highly recommend this story to those who like exploring what lies beyond a character you think you recognize and know.