What’s It About?
An incompetent bank robber. Eight disgruntled strangers. Not your typical hostage situation.
The central premise of this book is that a bank robber ends up failing at robbing the bank (it’s cash free) and sort of falls into holding a group of people hostage instead. Two policemen are assigned to deal with the situation, and events unfold from there…
The bank robber and hostages are all empathetic characters in their own ways, so this is very far from the usual baddies-and-guns-blazing feel of a hostage drama. Instead it explores concepts around happiness, love, and how difficult it sometimes is to simply exist as an adult and make good decisions.
Fredrik Backman’s prose is brilliant at conveying complex concepts in an engaging and empathetic way. The story flows quickly and succinctly, with a tongue-in-cheek narrator, and a lot of light humour built in around some quite tear-jerking storylines.
We are gradually introduced to the backstories of those involved in the hostage situation (including the two policemen assigned to deal with it), at the same time as the situation in the present day unfolds. There are some good twists and turns and reveals, which all challenge assumptions about the cast of characters, uncover their depths, and make this into a very personal drama.
I’ve got to say this felt like such a humane story. One of the main reasons I enjoyed it was I felt an affinity with its central theme – ie. that as humans we are imperfect, we are ‘idiots’, but that our idiocy is usually born out of love.
Because everyone loves someone, and anyone who loves someone has had those desperate nights where we lie awake trying to figure out how we can afford to carry on being human beings.
I also kept turning the pages because the storylines of the cast were set up in such a way that I really wanted to know how each one turned out, and I did enjoy all the various resolutions.
Overall it is a book that leaves you with a feeling of hopefulness while also making you want to cry just a little bit.