|Ohmmm||Buckle Your Seatbelt|
|To-go||Sit and Savor|
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a quirky and delightful read. The book follows a man who, on his 100th birthday, literally climbs out of the window of his room at the nursing home and wanders off, avoiding both the evil director, Alice, who won’t let him drink vodka, and his own birthday party.
We follow the old man as he makes a series of seemingly strange decisions. Jonasson plays with our prejudices of 100 year-olds (sweet, harmless, delicate) to shock and surprise us with what our protagonist does in the first few hours of his newly-found freedom.
But, then again, at the beginning of the book we don’t really know Allan Karlsson.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks, covering the 100 winding years of Allan’s life, which have included stumbling into making friends (and enemies) with some of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century. Jonasson tells the history of the world from 1905-2005 through this man’s simplistic perspective. For aren’t world leaders just like the rest of us after sharing a bottle of vodka? Aren’t all major events born from bland moments of people sitting around a table? And Allan miraculously happens to be present for many of these moments that changed the course of recent history.
In the present day, Jonasson weaves together a series of surprising and fun twists and turns in the weeks following Allan’s escape. The result is a cast of characters that are far more complex than the reader realizes from the beginning.
The story is sweet and funny and attention-holding, but it’s also the way that the story is told that makes it delightful. Jonasson harnesses a simple, sometimes bordering on sarcastic, voice that matches Allan’s simple, straight-forward character and decision-making processes. Jonasson’s ability to strip complex situations down to delightful turns of phrase makes this book that much more enjoyable.