Reviewed by Antonia Mar
A Man Called Ove, written by Fredrick Baldwin, utilizes a charming twist of irony and goodhearted humor. From a small modern suburban neighborhood in Sweden, Baldwin uses the story of a grumpy and impatient old man to unfold the beauty behind unexpected friendship and the comedy to be found within it.
Ove is a fifty-nine-year-old no-nonsense Swedish man. He respects routine and good-old-fashioned common sense. To some people, Ove’s impatience and unwillingness to indulge in small talk may come off as bitter or rude. In Ove’s opinion, that is not necessarily true; he simply has no interest in holding shallow, pointless conversation with a bunch of idiots. Forced to retire, he now spends his days keeping his neighborhood in working order: resorting incorrectly sorted recyclables, tracking license plates in twenty-four hour parking zones—nothing gets past him. When a pregnant young couple and their two kids move in next door, Ove is coerced to reconsider his temperament and soften his crotchety ways, inspired to change by his new neighbors’ annoyingly bold and intrusive kindness.
Reading A Man Called Ove was an incredibly pleasant experience for me. Though the novel’s tone remains relatively light, I felt I was still able discern a valuable lesson in hope and deeper understanding of the human condition. This is a story that does take itself too seriously. I would highly recommend A Man Called Ove to any reader looking for a refreshingly wholesome read.
Antonia Mar was a graduating senior in the Gifted program at Hahnville High. She enjoys playing music, spending quality time with her two cats, and making others laugh. In the fall, she will attend Tulane University and major in political science.
Editor’s note: Book reviews are published throughout the summer and fall in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program and Unger’s “Adolescents Advocate Literacy” Brown Service Learning Grant.