Anxious People by Fredrik Backman | Book Review [spoiler free]

9/08/2020

Fredrick Backman is tied for my favourite author with Taylor Jenkins Reid. I've read everything he's written (that's been translated) and constantly recommend his books to anyone who enjoys hard-hitting contemporaries. His writing will always make me cry. So naturally, I was excited to see that he had a new book getting released this year, Anxious People. I instantly put it on my TBR, but I was surprised when reading the premise for his newest release as it seemed so different in comparison to his usual plots.

Anxious People is about a group of people who get stuck together in a apartment viewing when they're taken hostage by a masked person with a pistol. The gun wielding hostage-taker has just failed to rob a moneyless bank and is hiding from the authorities. Over the course of the day, each individual in the apartment begins to open up about their lives and current problems. Outside of that, we're reading from the future POV's of the two police officers who were in charge of handling the situation. Father and son, Jack and Jim, are on a quest to find the robber as he's seemed to of.. vanished. 

I'm silly for thinking that this novel wouldn't be one of the most heartfelt books I've ever read. There's something special that Backman always achieves with his books, and that's the way he writes about humanity. I never leave one of his stories without a warmed heart and an urge to hug somebody. In Anxious People I'd definitely say that some of the characters mirrored characters from Backman's previous novels, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but something to be noted nonetheless. 

Each individual in the apartment has their time to shine, and that's quite an achievement for a book under 400 pages. The robber is driven by the prospect of losing their children, and is in desperate need of money to pay the rent, so, not your traditional criminal. There's a queer couple Julia and Ro, who are expecting their first child together, but are also faced with the fears of any first-time parents. Roger and Anne-Lena, a retired couple who go around flipping properties, but are having some marital problems. Estelle, an elderly woman who was just waiting for her husband to bring around the car when she got caught up in this hostage situation. There's a man in his boxers wearing a rabbit head. Yup, you read that correctly. There's a quirky real estate agent who is desperate to make a sale. And lastly, there's Zara. A rich lonely woman who goes to apartment viewing to feel something. 

Zara's story really sealed this book into a 5 star rating for me. I found her to be so complex, flawed, and yet inspiring. As this book plays a lot with time, we're lucky enough to read from Zara's POV quite a bit and her therapy sessions were the highlight of the book for me. I couldn't help but painfully relate to her voice, and isn't that what we always want out of a story like this? 

All in all, this is an original book that really takes you all over the place but lands you under what feels like a fluffy blanket. The writing plays you, the reader, but never seems to be purposely confusing. Instead it's like the softest touching mystery you will ever read. If you've read anything by Backman before, or enjoy contemporaries that tattoo themselves onto your heart, pick this book up immediately. 

Side-note: Anxious People often discusses suicide, so if that's something that is triggering to you, go in with absolute caution. 


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