Published: August 20, 2012
Number of pages: 384
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: dark humor, historical fiction
Rating: older adults
Verdict: 2 owl hoots out of 5
Allan Karlsson turns 100 and instead of celebrating his birthday at the old folks home, he jumps out of his bedroom window to start a new life. Allan has lived an interesting life but his backstory is nothing that you’ve heard of before. Not only was Allan involved in the most important events in 20th Century, but he also played a key role in them too.
Sometimes I hesitate in buying books listed on bestsellers list. Not all bestselling books I enjoy reading and I’m sorry to say that this one falls under that category. That’s not to say I disliked the book, it’s a good story with a twist to the Forrest Gump movie with some absurd humor, and a crazy road trip that goes terribly wrong but for the better.
Allan Karlsson has lived and witnessed history’s greatest moments prior and during World War II. He’s met US presidents, prime ministers, and communists. He’s been all over Europe, Asia, and America and made friends (and enemies) of 20th Century’s historical figures. Allan has lived a fascinating and dangerous life while narrowing escaping death, but by the time he grows old, his life doesn’t feel worth living anymore so he decides to start again on his 100th birthday.
This is the first time I’ve read a book with a long title and still sum up the story in one sentence. I didn’t have any expectations for this book but after reading the first 100 pages, I started struggling with the story. It’s easy to follow but there were too many characters and some of the historical scenes with Allen in them I thought were far-fetched, as I couldn’t believe how he would have escaped death so easily. I also felt that some of the humor was pretty tasteless.
I did enjoy reading Allan’s crazy adventure in the present, as he leapt out of his window, stole a briefcase and befriended an odd cast of quirky characters including a gangster, an eternal student, a red-haired woman and an elephant. More than once, their road trip goes terribly wrong but what really threw me off was the ending as I felt that Allan hadn’t learned his lesson from his past and suddenly repeats his mistake in the present.
After reading this book I learned that it wasn’t for me. But if you’re looking for something that’s historical fiction with dark humor, then I recommend this book.