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

GENRE – adult fiction, Christmas, fantasy, novella



MY RATING – 3.5 of 5


Initial Thoughts

I love Backman’s books. They always make me feel we are all connected somehow. How else could he so perfectly describe my own feelings, fears, hopes and ideas?

Beartown is still my favorite of his, although I also loved A Man Called Ove and Anxious People. When I was picking up what I’ll be reading this December, I knew I wanted some Backman’s book on that list as well.

The Deal of a Lifetime was an obvious choice. First, because it is set on Christmas Eve, and that Christmas tree on the cover was promising some cozy holiday vibes. And second – it is very short (only 60 or so pages and many of them are illustrations), and I never have enough time for reading around the end of the year.

What It Is About

A quote from The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman: “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 may come as a surprise.

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 truly capable of…

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – My Review

Warning – this review contains spoilers.

This is a short and sweet story, but for some reason I couldn’t quite 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.

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?

This woman doesn’t exactly 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.

(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…)

Basically, this main guy needed to change himself, everything he was, so that he becomes 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 wrapping my head around 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 it save her?

Now, I might be 100% wrong and he might be talking about real, actual death the whole time. But this is how I saw The Deal of a Lifetime.

Except – even with all that, I’m still not quite happy with this book. I felt the story was a bit too dramatic to convey the idea.

Also, we only get one side of that change. Sure, many people are probably terrified to become parents. But fear is not the only thing they feel.

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 fun and short and kind of perfect for this time of year. But I don’t think it will stick with me for very long.

Though the idea itself was pretty solid, I felt the execution was a bit too complicated for my taste. It 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. All in all, I’m glad I read it. And 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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