Are you ready for an adventure? Because it seems that you’re going to get one whether you like it or not when you travel with Allan Karlsson who just ran away from the old folks home, escaping hid 100th birthday party.
Throughout the book, Jonasson follows his character Allan around the world and across time. The book alternates between Allan as a centenarian on the run and Allan growing up. Being the history buff that I am, my favorite chapters are, naturally, the ones that take us back in time.
Allan’s life was an interesting one. One of his friends said that he had “nine lives” and from what I read, it’s true. Allan participated and lived through the Spanish Civil War, befriending Generalissimo Francisco Franco along the way. Then he came to the states where he worked as a waiter for those involved in the Manhattan Project, where HE was the one who figured out how to control an atomic explosion. After that, he went to China to help fight against Mao Zedong and the communists. He ran away from that and into the arms or Comrade Stalin, who he also told about the atomic bomb. After insulting the Soviet leader he was shipped off to a Siberian labor camp which he inadvertently burned to the ground. Finally, he got to meet Mao Zedong who set him up on vacation in Bali.
I love the way Jonasson wove Allan into a bunch of historical happenings. It made me think, “maybe there was some random guy who told the men how to explode the atom bomb. Or saved Mao Zedong’s third wife. Or told Stalin to shave his mustache.” It’s funny to think about someone getting through all of that without even losing a limb. I love Allan as a person too. He only got into all this trouble because he was helpful and non-political. He just accidentally met up with the political figures.
If you only read one book in your life… it does not have to be this one. But it should be one like it. Full of accidental and unexpected adventure.