I was very much on the fence about picking up this book. I loved A Man Called Ove and Beartown, but I wasn’t sure I cared to read about a hostage drama. I’m so glad I took the plunge, because Anxious People was incredible. Brilliantly written. It doesn’t quite have the charm of A Man Called Ove or the emotional weight of Beartown, but it’s a pretty great marriage of both. The prose managed to be both amusing and deeply philosophical in the same sentence, which I found incredibly impressive.
“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.”
I love how so many strands of this accidental hostage situation tie back to a suicide that happened ten years prior. You see how every person, even those at the end of their metaphorical rope, and every action, even the suicide of a stranger, have a much greater, farther reaching impact than we ever imagine. The way these people, who didn’t know one another but whose lives had been touched by the aforementioned suicide, find their lives intersecting reminded me very much of the movie Crash.
“The truth of course is that if people really were as happy as they look on the Internet, they wouldn’t spend so much damn time on the Internet, because no one who’s having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”
The cast of characters could not have been more varied. And I was rooting for every single one of them. I didn’t find them realistic, per se, but I did find them all so adorable in their own ways that I wish they existed. This book addresses so many different types of love, as well as the characters’ worthiness of those loves, and I was moved by them. I love books that make me laugh while also making my heart hurt and my brain work, and this did all of those things in such a way that consuming it was effortless. There’s something to be said for easy books that still manage to feed you. Anxious People is one of those.
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
All in all, Anxious People is a delightfully heartwarming read that felt very applicable to the times in which we’re living. By the final chapters, the story ended up feeling like a hug made of words. It was sweet and hopeful and just what I needed.
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