3 out of 5 stars
After hearing all of the hype about this bestseller that’s been turned into a Netflix series, this novel was a bit of a disappointment for me. While it had funny moments and a few interesting observations about human nature, the storytelling style was a bit disjointed. It seemed to switch randomly from moments in the lives of some of the characters to the hostage situation to interspersing transcripts from the police interviews.
The characters were a bit too quirky for my tastes. I understand that the author gave many of the characters exaggerated quirks for a purpose, but it resulted in me finding it difficult to connect to any of them. For the most part, many of the men and women involved in the hostage situation could have been better described as Annoying People rather than Anxious People. I have a hard time enjoying a book when there isn’t a character that I can relate to or root for to succeed.
While the plot was a tad absurd, I did appreciate some of the themes in the book. Anxious People reminds us of the life-changing effects of having compassion for each other. The interactions between the characters also highlight the fact that none of us ever really knows what someone is going through.
“Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it.”Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
I also thought the author wove in some thoughtful observations about anxiety and depression. One of the lines that resonated most with me was “Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it.”
Another powerful observation was about the way people tend to hide their depression, even from the ones they love most. Backman writes, “A person who’s drowning doesn’t look like they’re drowning…Your family can be standing on the beach waving cheerfully to you, completely unaware that you’re dying.”
Even though this wasn’t my favorite book, I do think I will give Backman another try to see if I connect better with a different one of his stories.