Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

An apartment showing has brought together an unusual group of people. An older couple looking to renovate together for profit, a woman touring alone who looks like she could buy the whole building with her pocket money, a young couple about to have their first baby, a man in a bunny costume, and an elderly lady who just seems to enjoy the company.

Then a bank robber barges in to take them hostage.

What’s a group like this to do? Surely a thrilling hostage situation that makes the news will only increase the value of the property, but they’ve gotta sign the deal before the price increases. If only that real estate agent could just get the paperwork together, they could make their offer before the others catch on.

They’ll find themselves drinking wine in the closet and ordering pizza while the bank robber decides what to do. With enough time couped up together, will they learn to bond with the others, or will the group fall apart at the seams?

Meanwhile, a father and son police team must learn to make old-school and new-school work together. Can the father protect the son? Can the son understand that he might not solve this case?

And then there’s the bank robber… stranded with the worst group of hostages ever to be taken. The bank robber will need a clever way to escape if they’re to get away with their crimes.

Deep backstories connect the characters’ lives in more ways than the hostage situation. They’ll have to learn to work together and find a common cause to put aside their differences.

This is a story about a bank robber, about a hostage situation, about relationships, about love, about a bridge.

I’m a massive fan of Fredrik Backman and I really enjoyed this book; maybe even more than his others.

The humor and levity were amazing. The light-hearted mood and tone were in contrast to the seriousness of a hostage situation, which made it more pronounced. This was unique and provided action, but with a sense that this could really happen.

Obviously, this book was about the main characters. The title of the book gives it away: Anxious People.

The entire cast had their own backstories and motives that were slowly revealed as we went along. A few reveals were even made at the very end to wrap up the happy endings.

I was tricked at first by a few characters (probably as the author planned). I made assumptions that were wrong. I judged too quickly. I disliked characters for reasons I couldn’t understand, to later learn that the reasons for their actions were not what I expected. This book really is about people and different sides of the same story. There’s a true life lesson in there for sure.

I liked the inter-connectedness of several of the characters. Without any spoilers, a few had connections to the same bridge. A simple bridge in town overlooking the river had a unique place for each of these characters. They were drawn together in ways they didn’t even know until after the reader was aware of the connections.

The narrator changed their mind several times when deciding what the book was about: a bank robbery, love, an apartment, a bridge, etc. Really interesting take and it was about all of those things. It made me think about how many things a story can be about depending on where you put the emphasis. This is a great point to make in a book. There’s always another side to the story.

Finally, the author made you think about some serious moral dilemmas. He’s forcing you to decide along with the characters what is right and what is wrong. I don’t think there’s a right answer, but it sure does make you think.

Overall, really great book Mr. Backman. I will be back for more from this great Swedish author and I recommend you start checking out his long list of publications now. Currently, he has 7 novels and 3 novellas/short stories. Check out my review Beartown here.

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