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Anxious People’s Back-of-Book Description
An instant #1 New York Times bestseller, the new novel from the author of A Man Called Ove is a “quirky, big-hearted novel….Wry, wise and often laugh-out-loud funny, it’s a wholly original story that delivers pure pleasure” (People).
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. 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.
Proving once again that Backman is “a master of writing delightful, insightful, soulful, character-driven narratives” (USA TODAY), Anxious People “captures the messy essence of being human….It’s clever and affecting, as likely to make you laugh out loud as it is to make you cry” (The Washington Post). This “endlessly entertaining mood-booster” (Real Simple) is proof that the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope can save us—even in the most anxious of times.
So this book was offered as a Book of The Month option back in September 2020 but I didn’t choose it. But then… I kept hearing people talking about it all the time! So I borrowed it from my friend who did choose it.
And friends…I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed Anxious People. Right away I was struck by the unique writing and how the narrator speaks directly to the reader at times. It was witty, fun, sad at times, and seemed super heartfelt.
Speaking of the writing, the author, Fredrik Backman, lives and is from Sweden and so this book (and all his others I assume) is translated from Swedish. I wonder if there’s something there that gets lost or added… who knows!? But I really enjoyed it, regardless.
The story unfolds slowly, a bit at a time. The author kind of takes the reader on a journey of getting to know some of the characters’ personalities first and then their back story…and then more of their backstory. Only letting you in on the little twists when he felt it was appropriate.
And the little twists are perfection! Things are interconnected in ways you don’t see coming. It’s really fun and enjoyable to find it all out. But there are also sad/heartfelt moments that sometimes brought tears to my eyes. The author touches on all kinds of things that people struggle with during their lives – addiction, poverty, parenthood, divorce, loss of loved ones, etc. So there is a lot to relate to.
I felt like most of the characters were fully rounded people – hardly any that fell flat. The setting was mostly the same throughout the whole book, but it was done nicely. I had no trouble at all picturing these strangers in this interesting hostage situation.
I should mention that there is some talk of suicide in Anxious People. There’s one story of a person who does it and a couple of other mentions of thoughts of doing it. In my opinion, it in no way glorifies the act. And it wasn’t too upsetting for me to read about, even though I personally have lost people to suicide. I think it was handled in a really genuine way. Additionally, there’s a page at the end for numbers to reach out to if you or someone needs help.
2021 has seen some really great books, so there’s a lot of competition for this statement; this book is right near the top of my favorites! And full of such amazing quotes! Ughh…I could have marked every page.
Buy It Now!
Favorite Quotes from Anxious People
“…it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is.”
“…sometimes it’s easier to live with your own anxieties if you know that no one else is happy, either.”
“But we weren’t ready to become adults. Someone should have stopped us.”
“We’re just strangers passing each other, your anxieties briefly brushing against mine as the fibers of our coats touch momentarily on a crowded sidewalk somewhere. We never really know what we do to each other, with each other, for each other.”
“You can always tell by the way people who love each other argue: the longer they’ve been together, the fewer words they need to start a fight.”
“Addicts are addicted to their drugs, and their families are addicted to hope. They cling to it.”
“That’s the power of literature, you know, it can act like little love letters between people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people’s.”
“But if there’s one thing modern life and the Internet have taught us, it’s that you should never expect to win a discussion simply because you’re right.”
“All interesting people have done something really stupid at least once!”
“We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”
“It helps to know that you’re not alone when you’ve been left behind. You can’t carry the guilt and the shame and the unbearable silence on your own, and you shouldn’t have to …”
I loved Anxious People – 5 stars and zero complaints. The writing was beautiful, the characters were interesting, and the plot was entertaining and kept me engaged. I loved so many of the quotes (I mean, obviously – look above at all the ones I wanted to share!) that I can see myself re-reading this again in the future – and I almost never do that!
I would recommend this book to anyone, literally. Especially those who like contemporary fiction or drama. I also think that it’s possible that readers with kids will find it even more enjoyable than I did, as it touches on how hard it is to parent quite a bit. So maybe gift it to the parent in your life.