When I read A Man Called Ove a couple of years ago, I absolutely fell in love with the character of Ove and the simple yet powerful story that Backamn told. One of my friends recommended I pick up Anxious People quite some time ago so when I received it as a present for Christmas I quickly put it to the top of my TBR and I’m so glad I did!
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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is such an interesting book. It tells the story of a group of people who had planned for their day to revolve around an apartment viewing, being involved in an unintended hostage situation. However, there’s far more to these people than the fact they all just so happen to be at that apartment on the same day.
Anxious People plot – 4.5/5
At the same time that Anxious People doesn’t feature the grandest, deepest plot, it also has one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Backman’s ability to tell a story isn’t with grandiose sets and heart-racing action, it’s with cleverly woven plotlines, intelligent twists and a lot of forethought.
Essentially, as I said above, one day a parent who feels they are failing decides to rob a bank, but once they realise it’s not a bank that has any real cash, they run across to the apartment opposite in an attempt to escape. However, they run right into the middle of an apartment viewing which quickly becomes known as a “hostage situation”.
Everybody involved in the apartment has their own, genuine story to tell. They all have vastly different backgrounds and bring something new to the whole story. In this one room, we find out about all of them and what brought them to this room this day. This opens up Backman’s absolute best quality – his unrivalled ability to write some of the most complex human emotions in the simplest of ways.
The book is called Anxious People, so we’re out here learning about all sorts of different types of anxiety, without even realising it because, for each of us reading this, one of these backstories will relate to us.
Oh, and there are two policemen who are trying to find out where the robber is because he never actually made it out of the apartment too… (just to add some intrigue).
Anxious People characters – 5/5
Fredrik Backman can write human beings, that’s all I have to really say here. Though for the sake of not making this an incredibly short section, let me build on what I mean.
In Anxious People, Backman includes quite a large group of main characters – by the end of the book, you’d struggle to know who the main protagonist ever really was. This is a testament to Backman’s ability to write not just one good character, but a whole cast of them.
We have Zara who is a bit of a b*tch to most people but we learn of her backstory and why she is the way she is, we learn she’s taking part in therapy and unintentionally has found the one therapist who seems to understand her. We have the two policemen who themselves, a father and son who’ve suffered a tragedy in the past and the father just wants to be a good dad and the son wants his father to know he doesn’t need to keep trying so hard. We have a couple who are going through a pregnancy together, sharing real genuine struggles soon-to-be parents likely struggle together.
There’s an array of more and they’re all equally engaging. they’ll all make you feel something and this is Backman’s superpower.
Anxious People final rating – 4.75
Anxious People may already be my favourite book of the year already. Backman has an incredible ability to write the smartest things in the dumbest ways. He makes emotions, anxieties and adult difficulties relatable, he talks about them, applies them and has his characters experience them. He intertwines these deep and powerful moments with humour in the most perfect blend.
If you’ve heard of Backman and been meaning to read one of his books – start with Anxious People. It blends heart, humour and an intelligent story together to create one of the best books I’ve ever read.