Review! Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.

This isn’t a romance per se but I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share my review here!

I’m participating in a “diversify your reading” challenge this year and the genre for January was Literary Fiction. I found this book in the bestseller list for that category and the title spoke to me – after all, anxiety has basically been the theme of the last 10 months! The blurb intrigued me so I ordered it and decided to give it a go. On the surface, this was a story about a failed bank robbery that ended up turning an apartment open house into the most bizarre hostage situation ever. What it turned out to be, however, was a charming, quirky, and insightful novel about human nature, forgiveness, hope, and what happens when you take the time to truly listen to others.

The way this story was woven together was very clever. It jumps all over the timeline and goes off on a lot of tangents but it all makes sense in the end and every little tidbit we learn becomes important at some point during the story. At times funny, at times heartbreaking, this story took difficult topics and handled them in a way that was impactful yet lighthearted. It was a fascinating narrative that kept me flipping the pages.

The bank robbery and hostage drama are just mechanisms to bring this eclectic cast of characters together. It was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for most of them but what happens during their time together turns out to be life-changing for each and every one of them. From an older married couple on the brink of divorce to a young couple about to become parents for the first time, an elderly woman and a wealthy banker who are just at the apartment viewing for kicks, a flustered real estate agent and a man in a rabbit mask – this is a strange bunch. Then we’ve got a father/son cop duo trying to diffuse the situation and a handful of other secondary characters who ultimately play important roles as well. Everyone has their own issues and secrets and at first look, these people were pretty insufferable. But as we take the time to get to know them better and understand their motivations and desires, they become almost endearing and you start to root for them. It was an interesting shift and fascinating to see all these new friendships and bonds form in a group of once strangers who may have never given each other the time of day had they not been forced together.

Overall I was really entertained by this book. It took many turns that I wasn’t expecting because of certain assumptions you will automatically make (you’ll understand what I mean if you read it!). And there are so many little tidbits and insights throughout that will make you think and reflect on your own life and relationships. I had never read anything from this author but I enjoyed his writing style and will have to look into some of his other stories!

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