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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared Paperback – Bargain Price, September 11, 2012
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Desperate to avoid his 100th birthday party, Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his room at the nursing home and heads to the nearest bus station, intending to travel as far as his pocket money will take him. But a spur-of-the-moment decision to steal a suitcase from a fellow passenger sends Allan on a strange and unforeseen journey involving, among other things, some nasty criminals, a very large pile of cash, and an elephant named Sonya. It’s just another chapter in a life full of adventures for Allan, who has become entangled in the major events of the twentieth century, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project. As Allan’s colorful and complex history merges with his present-day escapades, readers will be treated to a new and charmingly funny version of world history and get to know a very youthful old man whose global influence knows no age limit. An international best-seller, this is an engaging tale of one man’s life lived to the fullest. --Carol Gladstein
"[A] laugh-out-loud debut." (Publishers Weekly, starred)
"Fast-moving and relentlessly sunny." (The Guardian)
"[A] silly and wonderful novel." (Kirkus Reviews, starred) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful, crazy, fun-filled book.
There were many moments when I laughed out loud during reading this novel. I could vividly picture Allan climbing out of his window on the morning of his 100th birthday and escaping the nursing home - I bet that many hundred year olds biding their time in such a facility have entertained thoughts of doing the same! But Allan is no ordinary hundred year old (if such a thing exists - all the hundred year olds I have met have been extra-ordinary and amazing people). He is also blessed with a mischievous spirit, a wicked sense of humour, an addiction to vodka and 9 lives. Blissfully ignorant as far as politics are concerned, he is blessed with wonderful common sense and the ability to take each person at face value, which lands him in the most bizarre situations with the most unusual characters. Jonasson's imagination has no limits where his protagonist is concerned - as the novel progresses and Allan's past is revealed, he makes an appearance and plays a leading role in some of the most fundamental political events in last century's history. With his colourful (and explosive) background it is no wonder that the hundred-year-old Allan manages to get into trouble as soon as he has left the nursing home behind.
I have read several reviews which compared this novel to Forrest Gump. Indeed, Allan's involvement in certain key historical events brings back memories of the movie, but that is where the similarity ended for me. There is nothing sentimental or deep in this quirky tale of adventure and mischief, except that perhaps we should take a closer look at our senior citizens instead of labelling them as simply "old". Allan may be advanced in years, but he could give most of us a run for our money, and his rich personal background makes most other lives pale in comparison. I loved Allan's outlook in life - whatever is meant to happen will happen. Even in the face of his own death (several times) he is not worried or stressed.
Jonasson's novel made a delightful change from the seriousness of life - this tale is light-hearted and fun, finds the bright side of most situations and doesn't take itself too seriously. By defying the boundaries of truth as we know it, Jonasson has created a light, enjoyable and funny story which can be enjoyed by all ages and both genders alike. My husband is currently reading it, and I'm sure he will get as many chuckles out of it as I did - if maybe at different things. I loved Jonasson's writing style - with his black sense of humour, no-nonsense language and keen observations, his statements hit exactly the right spot. Make sure to have a glass of icy cold vodka ready when you read this book - to toast the hero of the story, who would surely appreciate the sentiment.
The characters were endearing, strange, eccentric and all things out of the norm...which I liked so much. Appreciate how they all eventually seemed to gel with each other and form this close knit family with secrets that make life interesting. The investigation surrounding them was comical, true to form and intriguing. [My most favorite character of all, besides Allan, was Herbert Einstein]
While I was reading this book, especially the adventures of Allan, I thought how I loved, as a little girl, sitting around listening to my father and his baby brother telling stories of their lives and family secrets...histories, etc. I also kept thinking about my youth and the love I had for Mr. Peabody and Shermon, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and the reinventing of Aesop Fables. Tall tales...exaggerations...histories. Loved, loved, loved every bit. Liked how this book did an outstanding job of story telling and I smiled so much as I read while even thinking a little how this was similar to Forrest Gump and how he met all the Presidents and in this case other world leaders. Tales of espionage, travels, prison camps, bombs, war, etc., etc., etc.. All Allan needed to survive was good food and alcohol, especially Vodka. This book captured/held my imagination as I watched Allan’s tale unfold before my eyes and hearing (since I also listened to the audible).
I recommend this book if one is interested in reliving historical events as told through the life of an old man and his adventures in history.