Anxious People

Fredrik Backman

fiction contemporary mystery
emotional medium-paced

352 pages | first published 2019

Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix their own marriage. There's a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them--the bank robber included--desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Rich with Fredrik Backman's "pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature" (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope--the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.

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emotional 78%
funny 74%
hopeful 61%
reflective 54%
inspiring 30%
lighthearted 25%
mysterious 25%
sad 18%
adventurous 7%
challenging 6%
dark 6%
tense 6%
relaxing 4%
informative 0%


medium 65%
fast 21%
slow 12%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 54% | A mix: 40% | Plot: 4%

Strong character development?

Yes: 83% | It's complicated: 11% | No: 5% | N/A: 0%

Loveable characters?

Yes: 75% | It's complicated: 17% | No: 6% | N/A: 0%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 70% | No: 17% | It's complicated: 9% | N/A: 2%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 87% | It's complicated: 7% | No: 3% | N/A: 1%

Average rating