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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Book Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

BOOK review
Started on: 12 September 2021
Finished on: 23 September 2021
Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 341 pages / 346 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2020
Price: Rp 258,000 (

Rating: 5/5
"This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it's always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you're trying to be a reasonably good human being for."
This is a story about a crime that never took place, a bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Viewing an apartment normally doesn't turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber barged in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure escalates, the eight strangers start to open up to one another and reveal some long-hidden truths. As police surround the premises, the bank robber must quickly decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.
"They're right, both of them. The witnesses aren't telling the truth, not all of it. Not all of them."
"Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it. She tried to be one of them. She told herself that was why you should always be nice to other people, even idiots, because you never know how heavy their burden is."
This is my second time reading a book by Fredrik Backman (the first one was A Man Called Ove) and this author certainly knows how to play with a reader's emotions. I actually went into this book not knowing much what it's going to be about, but I think my reading experience was even more enjoyable because of that. It is written as if someone is personally telling this story to the reader—which makes me feel more invested in it and dying to know how it's going to end. It also goes back and forth between the present and the past, giving us little by little the background story of each characters and what they experienced in the past. At the beginning, I was a little bit confused with this way of storytelling—especially because there are quite a lot of characters involved; but as I kept on reading, it all made sense in the end (although I need to check the earlier pages just to make sure I was understanding the story correctly 🙈).
"The problem is that everything is relative, happiness is based on expectations, and we have the Internet now. A whole world constantly asking us: "But is your life as perfect as this? Well? How about now? Is it as perfect as this? If it isn't, change it!"
"Everyone inside the apartment had their own complexes, their own demons and anxieties... Everyone in the apartment was wrestling with their own story."
To be honest, I can't share too much details about the book in this review without spoiling the whole story because there's a little bit of mystery that keeps us guessing throughout the story. So in this review, I will share some aspects of this book that I love. First and foremost, I love the writing style so much and it makes me want to read all the books written by this author. Fredrik Backman was able to capture my attention right from the very first page and makes me want to keep on reading to find out what's going to happen next. I was constantly intrigued and pleasantly surprised with all the unexpected revelations about the characters. The author threw in some clues here and there about what truly happened and I can't help but keep making guesses as I'm reading. However, all of my assumptions turned out to be wrong and I think Fredrik Backman somehow expected us to make those assumptions—which is very smart, in my opinion (hopefully I'm not the only one being tricked 🤣). The unexpected turn of the story made this book very pleasant and entertaining to read.

The title of this book is very fitting because it is indeed a story about a bunch of anxious people. The author introduced each character one by one, little by little; and at a certain point, I feel like I knew them well enough to sympathize with how they feel and understand the reason behind their actions. These people who seem rather questionable at first turns out to be warm and affectionate after I got to know them. I also love how as the story progresses, we got to see how some of the characters' lives have intertwined in the past—making a life-changing impact on one another. I find their life stories are something that we might have heard before or it might happen to someone that we know, thus making these characters so relatable. They are not extraordinary characters; they are a representation of normal human beings who have anxieties and issues of their own.
"When you're a child you long to be an adult and decide everything for yourself, but when you're an adult you realize that's the worst part of it."
"We can't change the world, and a lot of the time we can't even change people. No more than one bit at a time. So we do what we can to help whenever we get the chance, sweetheart. We save those we can. We do our best. Then we try to find a way to convince ourselves that that will just have to... be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning."
Aside from that, the narrator often makes thought-provoking commentary about the story and about life in general. I also love the fact that we are able learn one thing or another from these anxious people. One of the characters gave a great marriage advice, another one teaches us to embrace our past mistakes, and many more that I won't spoil in this review. I ended up highlighting quite a lot parts in this book that left a deep impression on me, just in case I want to flip through it again someday.

To be honest, as I was reading this book, I thought I might give this book a 4 or 4.5 rating; because I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the story, but it felt a bit slow at times. However, the ending of this book just warms my heart so much—it ended in the most beautiful way and kind of restored my faith in humanity (even though it's just a work of fiction) :') I've grown attached to the characters, and so when they experience relief, I felt so happy for them that I almost cried 🥺. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. I am reminded that every day, our lives affect others in ways that we could never imagine before. So any act of kindness matters. Be kind because everyone is wrestling with their own story ❤️. Will definitely read more books by Fredrik Backman in the future!
"They say that a person's personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn't true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we'd never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we're more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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