Crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeon are all synonyms to define Ove. Living a life high on principles, with a timetable like precision, has always been Ove’s motto in life. In doing so, he doesn’t feel the need to oblige to the societal image of him of being kind and patience. On the contrary, he doesn’t feel the need to be all happy and mindful to appease certain set of people.
When things don’t happen his way, or when encountered with too much of casual behavior, Ove doesn’t shy from giving a piece of his mind and tongue. A sharp reply, followed by oodles of grumpiness and brashness is what people get from him. To him, it’s ok to dislike people or things which don’t happen with perfection and he doesn’t mind having a strong judgmental take about it!
Right from the start of the book, it’s evident that Ove doesn’t like change of any kind.
Be it while terrorizing the Apple salesmen, to not getting his house sold, to pave way for a more modern one, he hates people trying to bring about change of any kind into his life. He is charmingly quaint about certain ideologies and is pretty proud of it! No wonder the morning rounds put him off, especially when he sees a bicycle out of place, along with a mangy cat somewhere!
At the age of 59, driving a Saab, and assuming a life perfectly led, it becomes very difficult to understand why the man has inclination to commit suicide at the first place!
It is with the introduction of his next door neighbors that his character layering starts unfolding. Thanks to the nosy, clumsy neighbors, who ruin his plan of committing suicide at the first place!
His characteristics traits come to surface at this particular point of time, when his neighbors, accidentally bump their trailer into his house, while reversing, and spoil his plan of suicide!
His not-so-perfect-neighbors, a pregnant Persian lady by the name Pervaneh, her clumsy husband and two doting daughters, manage to bring out both perfect and imperfect side of his character. His funny disastrous encounters with them, all bring out the reasons of why Ove is what he is shown to be!
The series of comic encounters involving his neighbors, to the rampant flashbacks showcasing his life, when he was a teen to his work life to his marriage to his wife’s demise, everything points to the satisfying, yet deeply heartbreaking characteristic outcomes in Ove!
Right from the start, the plot has added good number of events, to keep the comic flow, yet the slice-of-life feel of the book alive!
The book is all about the art of empathy in the face of all imperfections or seemingly perfectionist characters like Ove! It’s all about developing human connection, just like Pervaneh does, with a character like Ove, who seems difficult, unapproachable, unlikable and worse, hard to co-operate!
It’s about seeing the best in people, no matter what! It’s about appreciating people, who try to give their best, without being natural or obvious in their surface presentation!
The flashback moments of his growing up with his father, his father’s demise, his early adulthood, his working life, his first meeting with his wife, his marriage and his wife’s death, all events generate a deep feeling of empathy and respect for Ove, who is constantly shown to be a man high on morality! His thirty years’ of service, not giving up on his house but rather re-doing it from scratch all vouch for his high moral standards!
This book might seemingly sound depressive, yet comically, it turns out to be an eye-opener, an endearing tale of finding happiness through imperfect of things and situations! Thanks to the character buildup of Ove and Pervaneh by the author! The writer does full justice in bringing about the truth laced with wit and goodness, all sunny side up!
In short, right from the start till the end (the ending is wonderful), the story is heartwarming. I highly recommend it, especially if you are one of those readers for slice-of-life stories and have a knack to appreciate differences around you! This one should not be missed!