Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
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.
September 8th, 2020
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I have had mixed feelings about Fredrik Backman’s novels in the past. Some I have loved (like Beartown) and some I have really struggled with, (A Man Called Ove). So when I saw he was publishing a new book this fall I was interested but didn’t want my expectations to be too high.
I decided to give it a go the other day because I have been in a bit of a reading rut- and it ended up being what I didn’t know I needed right now in my reading life! It’s totally quirky, a little dark, terrifically witty and the character development is really what makes this one shine. I could feel these characters coming to life through the pages and it encompasses something that we can all connect with right now, being human.
It’s a tough one to explain because when I first read the book summary, I didn’t think it sounded like anything I would normally like to read. But the reviews from some of my trusted sources were raving, and if there is anything 2020 has taught me, is that sometimes things do not go like you initially expect. And boy were they were right! It covers some heavy hard-hitting topics while at the same time being totally heartwarming and sometimes laugh out loud funny.
We meet a slew of eccentric and complex characters (and if you get the chance to read this via audiobook, Marin Ireland is amazing at portraying them all!) who are all strangers and ultimately become connected. The story is narrated through short chapters consisting of therapy sessions and police interviews that share the nuances of these individuals while also unraveling a mystery. It sounds like a lot but it is masterfully written and one I know I won’t ever forget.
I know it is only September, but I already know this will be one of my top books of 2020. I highly recommend going in blind with this one because it is so much more than what you might first assume, a lot like being human right?
Thank you to Atria Books, NetGalley and LibroFM for the gifted copies. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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