Anxious People is a mystery about a bank robbery that never actually took place. This quirky novel depicts what would happen if someone were desperate for cash and thought they should rob a bank, only to discover that the bank was moneyless. And what if you decided to rob that bank with no plan? What if no one in the bank took you seriously? Sounds like the strangest nightmare there could be. Because really, what kind of person robs a bank that doesn’t keep any money on the premises… 

Anxious People – A Novel About A Bank Robbery That Never Happened

Honestly when I started reading Anxious People I was not prepared for how unpredictable the story would be; I expected a straightforward narrative rife with crazy twists and turns. What I got instead was a story that describes the anxious reality of what life is like — especially if you have ever made any type of rash decision due to a situation that life has thrown at you. Backman really captures what patience, understanding, and kindness can do for someone in need. Growing up I was always told to be kind to others, because you never know what is really going on in their life. Anxious People is a prime example of how ones life can be falling apart, and an act of kindness from strangers can turn their day, or life, around.

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Anxious People: A Summary

The novel follows a father and son who work together. The father wishes the son had chosen a less dangerous profession (the son is a police officer) and the son gives himself unrealistic expectations to live up to. I’m pretty sure that no matter how much you get along with you father, working next to him 8+ hours a day is bound to get on anyone’s nerves. And when you mix family and work together with some frayed nerves, someone is bound to reach their breaking point.

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This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.

When reading, you not only follow the duo as they solve a crime that didn’t happen, you get to experience this crime from the alleged bank robbers perspective simultaneously. And at first, you’re thinking bank robber = crime. Crime = bad. But let me tell you , by the end of this book your feelings about the bank robber shift and instead of being black and white, you find yourself in the land of grey. 

Anxious People – What Kind of Bank Carries No Money?

This bank robbery, if you can even call it that, is an event that is shared by a roomful of people, two cops, and the supposed robber. Everyone in Anxious People has their own lives, their own struggles, and their own issues that they carry around with them. Throughout the course of the story you get too see how one event shapes the lives of many— in many different ways. That no matter how anxious you are or what is happening in your life, all it takes is one moment and a roomful of people to change the tide to gain a moment of clarity. Backman took inspiration from his own experiences of observing people around him, and watching their insecurities shape their decisions.

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Final Thoughts

Writing a book where each character in the book is struggling, and being able to convey each emotion to the reader successfully is an impressive feat in and of itself. The variety of characters and struggles is impressive. I feel like readers will be able to relate well to these characters, their struggles and be able to see a moment in their life when they have felt like this. 

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We give those we love nicknames, because love requires a word that belongs to us alone.

With mystery, comedy, drama, and intrigue all throughout this book hold you captive and it is hard to let go. If you find yourself with some time, a cup of tea, maybe some blankets, spend an afternoon with Anxious People. It’s a wonderfully light hearted read that showcases anxiety and the complex issues that are a part of our daily lives.

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  • Fun
  • Interesting
  • Light read


  • Short
Good afternoon read

Final Verdict

Anxious People is a fun and quirky character study. It captures human kindness and empathy through a shared event, when ones anxiety gets too overwhelming.