Book Reviews

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

Book cover for The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman opened on tablet

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

The Deal of a Lifetime – Book Details

TITLE – The Deal of a Lifetime

AUTHOR – Fredrik Backman

CATEGORY/GENRE – adult fiction, Christmas, fantasy, novella



MY RATING – 3.5 of 5


What It Is About

If we’re asked, “Are all lives worth the same?” the majority of us will reply with a resounding “Yes!” But only until someone points to a person we love and asks: “What about that life?”

The Deal of a Lifetime is a story about a man who suddenly needs to reevaluate his own life. So he needs to put everything that he’s accomplished on one side and the price his family had to pay for it on the other.

And we are talking about a man who is used to evaluating and putting a price on everything. But when it comes to his own life and what he did with the time he was given, the final conclusion comes as a surprise to him.

Now he is in a position to save the life of a 5-year-old girl. But doing that requires an act of ultimate selflessness, something not many people are capable of…

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – My Review

This review contains spoilers!

No, the majority of people just survive, they think their things have a value but nothing does. Things only have a price, based on expectation, and I do business with that. The only thing of value on Earth is time. One second will always be a second, there’s no negotiating with that.

The Deal of a Lifetime was a short and sweet story, but for some reason I couldn’t connect with it. The topic was a bit too abstract for me. Basically, Backman here tries to make a difference between dying for someone and giving your life for someone.

And – I don’t know. I wasn’t loving it as much as I loved his other books. Honestly, I’m not sure that’s how I’d see the situation.

Some parts of this story I absolutely adored. Like how heartwarming it was. How honestly it talked about regret. And it was one of the best apologies I’ve ever read.

But when it comes to the central idea of this story – about what it truly looks like to give your life for someone – I’ve struggled with that part quite a bit.

Everyone is always negotiating, all of the time. You’re doing the deal of your life, every day. This was mine.

Basically, this story is told from a perspective of a very successful businessman who encounters Death and starts to reevaluate everything he thought he knew about life, time and himself.

Death in this story comes as an old lady who wears a gray sweater and carries around a notebook with names of all people. Which is interesting, because we don’t actually get the names of any of the characters.

But what death in this case really means?

This man sees the old lady and gets scared of her. And the kid at the hospital sees her and gets scared of her. And everyone is scared of dying, so we assume.

But, you know what else people are scared of? Change. At least that is how I saw this story. What if the old lady is not Death, what if she’s more something like – Change?

That’s what fathers do, they sit in front of their sons and tell their son’s stories to a third person rather than letting them speak for themselves.

The Death-lady in this story definitely didn’t look like the death the way we’re used to think about it. I think she more represents the end of something, to make space for something else – a new beginning.

After all, death doesn’t have to be literal. It could be a death of a habit or an idea. Or in this case – death of who the main guy used to be in order to become someone whom his son needs.

That would kind of explain how one person completely disappears and someone else comes to his place. (Which was one of the aspects of the book I struggled the most to wrap my head around.)

(Though it doesn’t quite explains how his past disappears too.)

(Although, when you are changing, you are kind of giving up on who you used to be, so maybe…)

“We said very little, because there was too much I wanted to say. That’s always when we fall silent.”

Basically, that’s how I saw this story. This main guy needed to change himself, everything he was, so that he can become someone new. Someone who is not selfish and self-absorbed. Someone who is capable of sacrifice.

I guess all parents go through that sort of change eventually.

I’m still working on figuring out how his change affects the little girl. I see how it could affect him – a great act of selflessness might be enough to change someone to his marrow. But how does that save her?

Of course, I might be 100% wrong and he might be talking about real, actual death the whole time.

“You humans always think you’re ready to give your lives, but only until you understand what that really involves. You’re obsessed with your legacy, aren’t you? You can’t bear to die and be forgotten.”

So, yeah. The Deal of a Lifetime made me run my mind in circles, which is good. But in the end, I wasn’t all that happy with what I got. I felt the story was a bit too dramatic to convey the idea. And everything seemed one-sided.

This book is probably one of those that have very narrow audience. People who click with it will probably looove it. Sadly, I wasn’t one of them.

The bottom line is – I read this book and felt a bit meh about it. I thought – well, this was short and interesting and all that. But I don’t think it will stick with me for very long.

You’ll wake up soon. It’s Christmas Eve morning. And I loved you.

The Deal of a Lifetime made me more think about the whole concept than feeling the essence of it all. Which is really sad because I think that regret and wasted opportunities are topics most people could wholeheartedly relate to.

But, this book also had some very strong points. And it is well written, short and easy to go through. I will probably reread it at some point – I feel there were many small things I didn’t quite pick up on.

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