Sunday, September 13, 2020

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Atria: 9/8/20
review copy; 352 page

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a very highly recommended about a bank robber and a hostage situation - only it isn't. It is a poignant, charming novel about idiots, connections, coincidence, parents, relationships, anxiety, death, life, love, and more. I loved this novel! One of the best books of the year!

A would-be bank robber runs out of the bank, across the street, into an apartment open house, and inadvertently takes eight strangers hostage. The hostages include Roger and Anna-Lenna, an older couple who buy and flip apartments; Julia and Ro, a pregnant first-time home-buying lesbian couple; Zara, a wealthy bank director; Estelle, an eighty-seven-year-old woman, the real estate agent, and a surprise guest locked in the bathroom. When the hostages are released, the bank robber appears to have somehow disappeared, leaving a pool of blood behind. The police team are father and son, Jack and Jim, are interviewing the impossible group of hostages who are all anxious, impossible to get straight answers from, and, well, idiots.  They are the worst group of hostages in the world for the failed bank robber, but no one is exactly who they seem to be and all of them need to be rescued in some way.

I loved Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I love everything about this novel. Every. Single. Thing. Backman has the ability to tell his story but include all manner of other observations and reflections about... everything. And then he includes a thought that will knock the breath out of you. There is no other author who can have me gaffawing, giggling, shaking my head in agreement over something (probably in regards to Stockholm or Stockholmers), and then sobbing - all on one page of text. There is an unsurpassed understanding and insight into human nature present in everything Backman writes. What other author can include so many truisms that reach the very core of your thoughts? (For example: Hand on heart, which of us hasn’t wanted to pull a gun after talking to a twenty-year-old? - which I found especially funny but that is based on my real life.)

There is a plot, but it is a meandering reveal of so many tangents, connections, and unexpected information that will take the whole narrative to reach the end and pull it all together. It all does reach a perfect ending. In between chapters that tell the story of the hostage situation are excerpts from the police interviews with the hostages. All the characters are wonderful in their own way. Yes, they are impossible, but they are also all too human. He does develop them, in his own special way as the plot evolves. This is most certainly one of the best books of 2020!

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria.

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