Fredrik Backman's first book, A Man Called Ove, remains on my list of all time favourite reads. But Ove has been bumped down a spot by Britt-Marie.
Britt-Marie Was Here is Backman's forthcoming (May 2016 in the US and August 2016 in Canada) novel. I'm giving you lots of warning - this is one you absolutely have to read.
Britt-Marie's marriage has broken up. After forty years of looking after Kent, she's alone and needs to find a job. Not an easy task, given her age and well - her personality and mannerisms. Britt-Marie is a bit awkward and uncomfortable in social situations and conversations. Britt-Marie's coping mechanisms are cleaning - (baking soda and Faxin - a brand of window cleaner, can do it all) as well as list making.
"A year turned into several years, and several years turned into all the years. One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it's happened.
Britt-Marie in fact does land a job - a three week stint in a run down little town named Borg, looking after their soon to be closed recreation centre. Borg is full of quirky inhabitants, odd little shops and a group of rag-tag children who love to play soccer - and I loved it all. (And you know, I kind of want to live there too.)
But it is Britt-Marie who will steal (and break) your heart. Her stubbornness, her anxieties and her tentative steps in making a life for herself will by turns have you laughing and crying. Brilliant.
Backman is a clever, clever writer - his soccer to life analogies are brilliant and the characters immediately won me over (or in the case of Kent - had me immediately despising him)
"Kent always pushed the shopping cart, while Britt-Marie walks at his side and holds on to a corner of it. Not because she's trying to steer, only that she likes holding on to things while he is also holding on to them. For the sake of the feeling of going somewhere at the same time."
It's simply impossible not to be in Britt-Marie's corner, urging her on and hoping that......well, I had my hopes for her (and Borg). Backman's ending, although not what I expected, is just right.
All I can say is that you must read this book - and recommend it to your friends.