Title/Author: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.
My verdict: Funny, witty, smart and full of heart!
“That light we see is burning in my hall. How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”Quoted from ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in ‘Anxious People’ by Fredrik Backman
Wow. I absolutely love this book. I loved everything about it – from the writing and storytelling to the characters and plot. At first, I was apprehensive about reading this due to the rave reviews it has been getting. I’m just so glad I wasn’t disappointed! This book had so much heart, soul and love.
It was the day before New Year’s Eve. We have a bank robber whose day couldn’t get any more worse. First, the bank robbery didn’t go as planned, then came the accidental hostage situation. What was worse, the hostages who were in the apartment for viewing, were complete idiots! There was an odd old couple, Anna-Lena and Roger, who were always on the hunt for fixer-uppers; a young couple, Julie and Ro, who were expecting their first baby; a rich-looking 50-year old woman, Zara; and mixed into this ragtag, was a kind, sweet 87-year-old lady, Estelle.
Called to save the day were two police officers – Jim and Jack. They called the hostages in for an interview, but were wrong to think that this motley crew would be of help in finding the bank robber, who seemed to have mysteriously escaped, but thankfully, left all the hostages alive.
At first, the hostages would make you want to bang your head on the wall – they talked and talked and talked throughout their interviews, but nobody would answer the questions asked directly. They got onto the nerves of Jim and Jack, so much so, you’d want to scream, ‘Just, answer, their questions and help them out!’
Then, as their stories unfold, so will your heart. All the characters were so true to life, you couldn’t help but feel for them. If you’re in a long-term marriage, you’d be able to relate to Anna-Lena and Roger’s marriage – their behavior towards each other, their irks and quirks and frustrations with each other, to the point where you ask, why are they still together and putting up with each other’s s**t??
If you’re a young, newly-wed couple, about to start a family, your heart will go out to Julie and Ro. Julie, who was pregnant, couldn’t stop criticizing Ro, and they were so different from what you’d expect of a newly-wed couple who’d normally couldn’t get enough of each other. Thrown into this mix was sweet, dear ol’ Estelle, the 87-year-old lady, who, yes, like most of us, loves books! But don’t let her age deceive you. She had quite a few tricks up her sleeve!
Then we also have Zara, the fifty-year-old woman, who totally looked out of place in that apartment viewing. She was one of those characters who is often misunderstood. She was cold, indifferent and insensitive but with reasons many wouldn’t know due to her nature. She’s one whom you’d start to empathize with as her character developed. Lennart, another hostage, seemed to have a liking towards her despite her animosity towards him.
What was also great about this book, wasn’t only how Backman made characters real and relatable, the story funny yet serious and soulful, but also managed to make the story flow seamlessly despite the many characters and their interconnected stories. And the way the whole story was plotted was incredible! When their stories and lives intersect, and came to a full circle, you’d be left in awe of his skills.
There were also scenes and dialogues that were so hilarious I laughed so hard I almost woke my daughter up from her nap! Mind you, then, I had only just started the book. As the story progressed, so would your the relationship with the characters. I loved every one of them, warts and all. I didn’t want the book to end.
Backman has this uncanny ability to get into our heads and write our thoughts eloquently and accurately, without sounding condescending or forced. He’s also able to take the simplicities and ironies of life, and make them so funny that you’re able to laugh at yourself and accept how absurd we can be. An example, ‘it’s hardly surprising that people get confused and society is going to the dogs when it’s full of caffeine-free coffee, gluten-free bread, alcohol-free beer.’
At the same time, he’d nudge you and say, hey, it’s okay, it’s how life is and this is how we are – flawed. To err is human. And that we’re here for each other. ‘God doesn’t protect people from knives, sweetheart. That’s why God gave us other people, so we can protect each other.’
‘Anxious People’ is a heartwarming, witty and funny story about marriage and relationships, love and life, fear, loss and humanity. It is just one of those books that you’d like to take with you to a lakeside, or a cabin, or just sit with at your fireplace, get lost in it, ponder, and get inspired by it. This book is a reminder, especially more so now, that we should all be gentler and kinder with ourselves and to one another.
Have you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Please share with me your thoughts!
P/S I loved this book so much I made some notecards and bookmarks with one of my favorite quotes from the book.