Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and “writer of astonishing depth” (The Washington Times) comes a poignant comedy 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.

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

First is Zara, a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else until tragedy changed her life. Now, she’s obsessed with visiting open houses to see how ordinary people live—and, perhaps, to set an old wrong to right. Then there’s Roger and Anna-Lena, an Ikea-addicted retired couple who are on a never-ending hunt for fixer-uppers to hide the fact that they don’t know how to fix their own failing marriage. Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents who are nervous about their chances for a successful life together since they can’t agree on anything. And there’s Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by a masked bank robber waving a gun in her face. And despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People’s whimsical plot serves up unforgettable insights into the human condition and a gentle reminder to be compassionate to all the anxious people we encounter every day.

Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 8, 2020 
by Simon & Schuster Canada
5/5 stars

Fredrik Bachman is a favourite author of mine for a number of reasons.

Firstly, his unique writing style.  He can weave the story between multiple characters though different time lines without this reader feeling any jarring affects.  And this happens multiply times within a chapter and it totally works.

Secondly, he doesn't do character dumps.  His characters are introduced in such a way to really get to know them.  No note taking or struggling to remember facts as the story progresses.

Thirdly, the plot is intricately woven that keeps me engaged as the story and characters take a life of their own within the pages.  The story is told in pieces where all the pieces come together perfectly at the end.  It reminds me of a puzzle and sometimes seeing the big picture at the end draws everything together nicely.

Lastly, the banter and dialogue is spot on.  I have laughed out loud, written quotes and even shared them.

Anxious People is a multilayered story about the hurting, silent people, and healing. I highly recommend it!!

After reading the Beartown Series last year and meeting Backman, 2023 is devoted to one of his books a month until I get caught up on his back-list.  

January - A Man Called Ove (5 stars along with 5 stars for the movie.)
February - Anxious People (5 stars)
March - Britt-Marie Was Here (maybe, I am a mood reader so might change my mind.)

This book was part of my 2023 Reading Off My Shelf Challenge.

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