31 August, 2014

Book Review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

From Goodreads: It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

Thoughts: This is my book groups book for September. I love it when I love a book group book - especially when I chose it! The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a true gem. Totally irreverent and full of humour, the book moves back and forth between the events that occur after Allan absconds from his nursing home on the day of his 100th birthday and the amazing life he led as a younger man. I've read reviews that compare it to Forrest Gump and I can see the comparison - Allan, it appears to have had a hand in many of the world's major political events - but HYOM is more intelligent that Forrest Gump. Allan's character is brilliant. He has lived, and continues to live by the idea that it will all be ok in the end. Take people at face value, treat them as you would like to be treated and chances are it will all work out. His complete lack of interest in politics means he has no problem in helping an American President or a Chinese Dictator. He is also an incredibly loyal friend and generous to boot.
This book has me giggling frequently. It taught me aspects of history I never knew and entertained me at the same time. While it took awhile for me to get into the rhythm of it (an issue I frequently have with translated books) I soon got to a point where that was part of it's charm. Suspend all belief and enjoy this book for what it is - a wonderfully fun-filled tale of an amazing man and why being 100 shouldn't mean the end of your life!