A man who said 'No' to the confines of life

“You’re never too old for an adventure”

The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window speaks to anyone who is terrified of getting old and being confined inside only able to look on the world through a window. I think we have all wanted to just ‘climb out of the window’ at some point, whether it was an awkward family gathering, going-over-the-same-old-stuff meeting, or being stuck in a end of the week traffic jam, the feeling of wanting to jack it all in and run away is a common one. What is great about this book is that Allan actually does it. This makes him a hero in my eyes by the first page.

The book centres on Allan Karlsson, a gentleman who is about to celebrate his hundredth birthday at his retirement home, when he climbs out of the window and disappears. His plan is to go to the nearest bus station and travel as far as he can with he cash he has left. What actually happens is that he unwittingly takes a suitcase full of money that belongs to a drug dealer and then ends up on the run from both the police and drug dealers along with a motely gang of friends including a Hot Dog Vendor, a petty thief, a gang and an elephant. The book also gives flash backs of Allan’s former life, working on the atom bomb and networking with the greats in history including Harry S. Trumanand, General Franco, knew Stalin, Kim Jong-il, Mao Tse-tung, and Soong Mei-ling.

I liked the quirky, humorous narrative and the eccentric characters and the fact that Allan himself (perhaps because of his advanced years) doesn’t seem to take anything much seriously at all. The narrative is down to earth compared to the unbelievable events that happen in the book which helps you like the characters and want to invest time in reading the book. The character of Allan is also made more believable in that he often reacts to events with wise statements about life such as “but what joyful thing lasts forever?", “People could behave how they liked, but Allan considered that in general it was quite unnecessary to be grumpy if you had the chance not to” and “Once you've reached a certain age, it is easier to sense when everything feels exactly right.” There was a lot of the authors life earned wisdom in the book which gave it more depth for me, and added a bit of seriousness of the otherwise light hearted and fantastical events in the book.

At times I felt the lack of structure and one-dimensional nature of some of the characters a little too much, but overall I enjoyed the book as long as I was in the ‘right frame of mind’ for that kind of adventure. I have now read the book twice, so perhaps that in itself says something. Its not one of my never-to-get-rid-of favourites, but it’s a read that certainly looks to escapism and sometimes that is exactly what you need.

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