Anxious people by Fredrik Backman
Anxious people by Fredrik Backman is about a bank robbery turned into a hostage drama. When the prospective buyers go to an apartment viewing on new year’s Eve, little did they know that, that day would turn all their lives upside down.
“Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it.” – Fredrik Backman, Anxious People.
At first, I couldn’t connect with the narration style. It felt repetitive and it got me thinking when the story would actually start making its pace. Only around 150 pages we come to know that the story had been moving all along.
I got used to the narration by then.
The characters: Anna-Lena, Roger, Ro, Julia, Estelle, Zara, Lennart, the estate agent, the bank robber, Jim, Jack, Nadia, London.
Each character here has anxious thoughts at the back of their head. And for each character, it is a different reason. They all carry the weight of these thoughts and try to put a facade on the exterior.
When people of different dynamics find themselves in a hostage situation, it creates an entirely new spectrum of possibilities of how events could unfold.
“We don’t have a plan, we just do our best to get through the day, because there’ll be another one coming along tomorrow.” – Fredrik Backman, Anxious People.
Anna-Lena and Roger are an old married couple. One of them feels unwanted while the other feels guilty.
Ro and Julia are a young married couple. Both of them are afraid of the responsibilities that lie ahead of their childbirth, thoughts like if they could be a good parent to their baby.
Zara is a complicated character that is fighting to forgive herself for her past mistake. She keeps her feelings at bay and puts on a cold persona upfront. I could say that Zara is my favourite character of all. She reminded me of Meryl Streep from The Devil wears Prada.
Estelle is a very interesting character. She is an old kind woman. We wouldn’t know much about her up until the second half of the book.
Lennart feels like an unnecessary character at first but eventually, he would grow on the readers.
Jim and Jack – The father-son cop duo have struggles too. They have a strangely complicated relationship.
Nadia is a character that feels out of the blue, but she is such an important character that makes the story make sense.
“But we weren’t ready to become adults. Someone should have stopped us.“ – Fredrik Backman, Anxious People.
The hostages would go into the apartment hurt and anxious but emerge out as completely different people. They learn to forgive, reach out, understand and help out.
The witness statement part was what irritated me the most. It felt a bit exaggerated. No police would put up with such idiocy. But it all makes sense in the end.
This story is never about the bank robbery or the hostage drama at its focus. It is more than that. It is about the anxious feelings people feel about various things and how it is okay to feel so.
This book will give many readers comfort. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with life and its pace and we always might feel we are far behind everyone else. But it is not like that. Everyone is going through an internal struggle every day and we are all collectively trying to figure out life.
“Some of us never manage to get the chaos under control, so our lives simply carry on, the world spinning through space at two million miles an hour while we bounce about on its surface like so many lost socks.” – Fredrik Backman, Anxious People.
I started this book with confusion but ended with comfort. This is my second time reading Fredrik Backman’s work and it is surprising how different it is from his other book “A man called Ove“, yet holding the comfort element at its core.
I guess Fredrik Backman has an amazing talent for comforting people with his books!
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I rate this book a 5 on 5 and I‘m beyond happy that I got to read this book.