My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
by Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Length: 372 Pages
Release date: June 16, 2015
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
“There’s nothing wrong with being different. Granny said that only different people change the world.”
This was my third novel by Backman, and he is yet to disappoint me. Elsa, the precocious 7-year-old protagonist of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, is endlessly endearing, and her love for her eccentric grandmother is guaranteed to make the reader love her, too. Elsa loves Harry Potter, superheroes, but most of all, she loves her grandmother’s fairy tales, which take place in a magical land called Miamas. Being seven, Elsa doesn’t have the strongest grasp of the divide between reality and fiction, and the magic of Miamas frequently bleeds into her understanding of the real world. By the end of the novel, you just may end up feeling like you grew up hearing granny’s stories as well.
At the heart of this story is a desire for understanding and human connection. Elsa is given a series of letters to deliver to people after her grandmother’s death. These people may not always seem sympathetic at first glance, but they all have something important to teach Elsa. “Because not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.” Elsa’s grandmother takes the time at the end of her life to apologize to all those closest to her, even those she was never able to connect with in life. Fans of A Man Called Ove already know that Backman has a special talent for getting readers to sympathize with the grumpiest curmudgeon; the grumps in this book were no exception.
Despite the novel frequently delving into rather heavy topics, such as domestic violence, death, and war, the overall impression is whimsical and hopeful. Backman’s expert blend of humor and sentiment make this the ultimate feel-good read.
“Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero. That’s just how it is. Anyone who doesn’t agree need their head examined.”
Have you read any of Backman’s work? Please share your thoughts in the comments!