by: MALLORY CARVER/News Editor
We’ve all heard the phrase, “opposites attract.” Ove (pronounced Oovah) and Sonja embody this statement in every way imaginable.
Ove is a simple man who loves nothing more than for things to go as planned. People say he was an old man when he started elementary school. He lives by strict principles, driving the same brand of car all his life— a blue Saab.
Sonja is colorful. She loves books, children and cats. Her laugh is like champagne bubbles, and it infects everyone around her with joy.
It’s a rare treasure to find a book that will stick with you throughout your lifetime. “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, is such a book.
Ove first saw Sonja at the railroad station where he worked. She was boarding a train on her way to school, where she was learning to become a teacher. So, naturally, Ove boarded the train as well.
No one knows why Sonja fell in love with Ove. Everyone has said, and Ove has agreed, that Sonja is too good for him. Regardless, Sonja loved Ove—almost as much as he loves her.
Ove buys them a house when they find out that Sonja is carrying their first child. They settle into the residential area with high hopes. Ove builds Sonja bookshelves, along with a crib for their future child. But Ove and Sonja are set on a path of heartbreak.
During a bus tour of Spain, they are in an accident. Ove walks away unharmed, but Sonja is left paralyzed and in a wheelchair. They never get to meet their son or daughter.
Ove is unable to grasp the injustice of it all. But Sonja starts her teaching job with delinquent children who no one else wants. She teaches and loves these children. She told Ove, “God took a child from me, darling Ove. But he gave me a thousand others.”
Forty years go by, and Sonja passes away with cancer.
Six months later, Ove is forced to retire from the job he’s had for more than a third of a century. Now, nothing is standing in his way, and Ove just wants to join Sonja— wherever she may be.
And so, the book begins.
He has it all planned out. He has tied up all the loose ends, cancelled his newspaper subscription, and given instructions on when his winter tires need to be changed. He gets his drill, and begins measuring out the spot to hang his noose in the ceiling.
But despite all his attempts, something always distracts him from his task. His useless neighbors need help with simplistic things, such as backing their trailer up, or bleeding their radiators. A scraggly cat nearly freezes to death. Ove is exasperated, but he knows he has to set things right before he can face Sonja again.
Now, Ove is stuck with the cat annoyance, a lanky man, the bossy, pregnant wife of the lanky man, and their two little brats. None of them seem to be able to function properly without Ove, so he decides to stick around until they can make it without him.
The book centers around an old man realizing the joys of life, even after he thought all happiness had deserted him. He finds his place in the residential area, and befriends people who he never thought he would get along with.
The author does an incredible job of making his readers fall in love with all the characters—especially Ove. Backman is truly an artist. His novel manages to be heartwarming without being sappy. Filled with humor, love, joy, and sorrow, this book will make its readers laugh and cry in equal measures. Anyone looking to fill an empty spot on his or her bookshelf will find fulfillment in this tale. “A Man Called Ove” will forever change its readers.