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Friday, September 13, 2013

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Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Yes, that's really the title. And the book is as unique as its title. But in a really good way.

Written by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson, the book is literally about a centenarian, Allan, who climbs out of his window at the nursing home (because he dislikes the head nurse and could really use a drink) and disappears on an adventure. This unbelievable adventure includes stealing a suitcase full of cash, a disorganized crime organization, an elephant, misprinted bibles, and plenty of alcohol.

But it is also about his one-hundred years of life leading up to this new adventure. And the reader is in for quite a surprise as to what Allan has been up to for the past 100 years.

The best genre classification I can give is "Whimsical Historical Fiction." Similar to Forrest Gump, throughout Allan's life, he is directly involved with more history than anyone, including the other characters, can believe. From inventing the atomic bomb to ending the Cold War, Allen has done it, and it is hilarious.

It is one of the funniest books I have ever read. It's smart, sarcastic, and self-aware. The book's format also adds to the comedic, one-liner tone.  Here is a small excerpt from one of my favorite exchanges in the book.

-We've got an elephant in the back.
-An elephant?
-She's called Sonya.
-An elephant?
-An elephant?
-An elephant.
Bosse was silent for a few moments. Then he said:
-Is the elephant stolen too?
-No you couldn't really say that.
Bosse was silent again. Then he said:
-Grilled chicken with roast potatoes for supper. Would that be good?
-I am sure it would, said Benny.
-Does that include something to drink? said an elderly voice from inside the bus.

Out of context, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it does show you the pacing and sense of humor that is constant through-out the narrative. I literally laughed out loud constantly. Allan completely won me over.

If I do have anything that I don't like about the book, it is because of my own ignorance. I'm not a history buff. I know important dates, major players, and a bit about foreign politics, but not enough to understand every reference made in this book. My lack of knowledge didn't hinder me from understanding anything that was going on, so if you're not a history buff either don't be afraid. Jonasson does good job of giving the reader just enough context so that you aren't lost as to who the historical figure Allan is doing shots with is. I just feel that if you knew a lot about history before reading the book, you would definitely be able to enjoy the book even more, knowing more context than the book gives you.

And before I give you the bottom line, I will give you one last quote from this great tale,

Once you've reached a certain age, it is easier to sense when everything feels exactly right.

Have you read this book whose title is too long to type again? Head over to the forum to discuss! 

Title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Genre: Whimsical Historical Fiction

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Mature male and female readers

Final Rating: Four out of Five mugs of hot chocolate

Interested in Allan's crazy and hilarious life? Use the link below and your purchase will also support the Lone Book Club.

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