Anxious People: A novel about mental health (Book Review)
A unique way of narrating sensitive topics
Imagine that you are considering moving and you visit different apartments. In one of these, along with other people who are also considering buying it, an assailant comes out of nowhere and tells them: “Okay, now you are my hostages”. The police, in that small town, are trying to understand what is happening, at all costs, as quickly as possible to avoid misfortune. That is the premise of this book and I must admit that that was not the reason I chose to read this book, but because of its title.
A while ago, I read Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove and I am sorry that I did not appreciate his writing as much as I do at this moment. In Anxious People, the author writes with a combination of humor and a serious tone to talk about the subject of mental health. He uses humor in the actions and comments of the characters to soften some moments. The narrative voice plays a fundamental role in this; while letting the characters themselves talk about their history and how they feel.
The book contains a thriller-like effect that makes you wonder why certain situations happen, specifically through the scenes with the policemen. However, this is sorely lacking because at one point, quite quickly in the story, you understand a lot of what and why it's happening, but it's clear that that wasn't the main focus of the story. Definitely, the author's forte is to make us reflect on different aspects and not to write a thriller novel where we try to catch the “bad guy”.
When I finished it, I reflected on how anxiety and suicide can change the lives of different people from different aspects (work, family, adulthood, among others) without necessarily realizing it at all. It’s impossible not to empathize with each of the characters because in this novel there are no main characters. Everyone, in one way or another, is important and they even have the same amount of space to show their situation. I've been wanting to read more about Fredrik Backman, so I have that assignment pending.