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Review: Anxious People

Anxious People

Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: General Fiction, Family Drama
Page Count: 352
Published by: Atria Books
Date Published: September 8, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Would you rob a bank? Maybe there are circumstances that could push you to that point? Are the lines of right and wrong so black and white?

A failed bank robbery (who knew it was a cashless bank?) turns into a hostage situation (the would-be robber escapes into the next building only to end up in an apartment viewing) and an odd ball collection of strangers will have their lives forever intertwined as a lifetime of pain, worries and grief are revealed.

Included in this unlikely hostage situation are a recently retired couple who flip apartments for a hobby, a narcissistic wealthy banker carrying a painful guilt, a lesbian couple about to have their first child, an elderly woman seemingly unafraid of this gun carrying intruder, a spacey real estate agent, and a man dressed as a rabbit in the bathroom … and of course the bank robber.

Sometimes funny, oftentimes heartbreaking, and all the time an honest portrayal of our shared humanity. Backman explores the painful realities and struggles that live within all of us.


Having had my heart stolen by Ove back in 2014 (A Man Called Ove), I knew this new novel by Backman likely couldn’t top it but I was still treated to many of the heartfelt, heartwarming, and heartbreaking moments that are his style.

This is a hard hitting novel. I would seriously caution anyone who is sensitive to very powerful conversations on suicide, depression and mental health … it is truly an exploration of “Anxious People”. But I thoroughly enjoy novels that slowly weave together a collection of people, slowly reveal their inner truths, meticulously weaving together strangers, breaking down the walls that make us think we are different from one another. The pain we experience, the guilt we hold, the trauma we endure … we share more than we like to think. Being a human is hard, being a human hurts. Backman is fantastic at portraying this in a potent package of heartbreak and laughter.

While with any novel that connects numerous people and their storylines together, this took a little bit to get going. I didn’t find myself warming to or connecting with many of the “hostages” at first, but they continued to grow on me as their inner struggles were revealed —  in much the same way as real life. As Brene Brown says – people are hard to hate close up, so lean in. Backman once again shows us our shared humanity throughout this novel and it’s a very painful, honest conversation on grief, mental health, depression and suicide. It is, at times, a very challenging but ultimately rewarding reading experience. Sprinkled with laughter to provide needed emotional brevity, the journey ultimately leads us to a worthwhile ending. I thoroughly enjoyed Backman’s observations on being an adult and parent – a great read for his fans.

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