A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Charming. Witty. Heartwarming.

Ove is a surly, recently widowed neighbor in a Swedish housing community. He takes a daily inspection of the neighborhood to ensure signage and rules are appropriately obeyed. Ove judges his neighbors by how well they follow the rules as well as by what type of car they drive. After the death of his wife and forced retirement he decides he is done with life. Each time he is about to end it all he is interrupted by a quirky neighbor’s request, emergency or idiocy. Eventually he pushes his final day off while these annoyances work their way into his life giving him another reason to live.

Notable Nuggets:

  • The Gray Area – Ove lived in a very black and white world driven by his principles. I often found myself relating to him and understanding his point-of-view. However, at times, he missed the opportunities for new friends, experiences and happiness. I’m constantly reminded that life is not always black and white, embracing the gray area can bring about great things.


  • Layers – Ove found it difficult to relate to or understand most people. He often found them very irritating. However he ended up helping them regardless. The reasons are a bit unclear but he did good for others. Which I think he had done daily for his wife as she was the center of his life. He lives for her and when she was gone, he stopped living. It took a pregnant Iranian neighbor and a unique clan to give him purpose again. Once they peeled back Ove’s layers they found his generosity. There are a whole slew of sayings regarding prejudgement, first impressions and giving others the benefit of the doubt. How well do we apply these to our daily life and interactions? People may not be exactly how they seem; there could be positive potential where it is least expected.