The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared (2009) – Jonas Jonasson

 

I’d heard about this book, and finally found time to enjoy this Forrest Gump-like adventure. It was a pure delight, engaging, heart-warming, often very funny (I occasionally chuckled on my transit ride to and from work, eliciting the occasional odd glance).

Allan Karlsson is turning 100 today, and he’s decided that he’s had enough of the nursing home he’s living in, particularly Director Alice, who seems to want to put a lot of constraints on the things that Allan defines as living. So, as the title suggests, he climbs out the window of his rumor, ruins the flower bed there, and heads off on adventure.

Along the way he ends up being accused of 3 murders, makes friends with an elephant, and pals around with a thief, most often with the police, not always with the best information, in some sort of pursuit behind them.

Interwoven with this, is a flashback through Allan’s life, from his early childhood, when he left his schooling behind to work on explosives through his journeys around the world, interacting with some very famous personages, and shaping events that defined the 20th century.

This is a book that I would occasionally see in someone’s hands on the streetcar, or pass by when I was in a book store, and I would remind myself, yet again, to read it. If you haven’t read it yet, consider this your final reminder.

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Allan, as a character is a joy, and makes you wish you knew someone just like him, warm, generous, and without political or religious affiliation. He surrounds himself, as the story progresses with some very interesting folk, and the tale that unfolds is a journey I truly enjoyed taking.

Jonasson has a knack for making the written word funny, whether through the story he’s telling, or the phrasing he uses to tell them. I loved his use of repetition, the histories he came up with, and the sheer joy that practically emanates from the page when Allan speaks.

It wasn’t until the last few pages of the book that I realized how attached to Allan I had become, and I was loath to let him go, the epilogue at the books end made it easier, and I closed the cover with a satisfied smile on my face, and it’s not often that a book can do that. Yes, I will walk away from it having been entertained, but to be touched by the story, the characters – that doesn’t always come about. It did this time.

There is no doubt a film that will bring Allan to life on the big screen, and it’s just too bad that Hume Cronyn has passed on, because that is exactly who I saw in my head the entire time I read the book.

If you’ve read this one, let me know what you think, and perhaps pass on some recommendations, and if you haven’t what are you waiting for?!

Pick this one up, it’s well worth your time!

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