Book Review: “Anxious People” by Frederick Backman

Frederick Backman has a gift.  He is at once an aloof observer and conspiratorial in his commentary, while challenging the status quo as absurd and celebrating life’s mundane moments.  His works are though-provoking, funny, and just a touch melancholic.  Anxious People is no exception.

The story deftly takes the reader to a police interrogation room, an apartment open-house, a tragic event decades in the past, a therapist’s office, and several other locales of various significance.  The central event is a hostage situation after an attempted bank robbery.  The hostages are each interviewed by the police after the perpetrator disappears.   While attempting to glean details about the bank robber’s demeanor, motivation, etc., we learn a lot about the hostages.  Their struggles, losses, insecurities, and outlooks all seem to color their perceptions of the event.  The police officers have some interpersonal issues of their own, and they affect the investigation.  The individual interviews are comical, and it’s hard not to feel sympathy for the officers as they grow increasingly exasperated. 

As the reader learns more about the situation, the line between accountability and compassion begins to blur.  The nature of crime becomes difficult to articulate.  Actions that are never accountable to a court of law are exposed as devastating, life-changing tragedies.  Along the way, we also get to witness true love through simple gestures that can so easily become complicated by outside expectations.  

By the end of the book, each character seems to have their own path to redemption for whatever burdens they’ve been carrying.  Hope and forgiveness seem to light the way.  It’s really a wonderful feeling to take from a book as we approach the holiday season and the darkest days in our calendar year.  This was one of my favorite reads this year and I hope you enjoy it, too!

Book review by Emily Read, Development Director

To request a copy, click here.  

Do you want to share your favorite book of the year?  Join us on Wednesday, December 9 for “Weekly on Wednesdays,” in which anyone can share a two-minute book talk on their favorite read(s) of 2020.  Click here for the details.  

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