My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
By: Fredrik Backman
Publication Date: 6/15/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove. Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers 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 instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
"Bring tissues when you start “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,” but bring your funnybone, too. It’s that kind of book – one that, if you miss it, you’ll never forgive yourself." --Business Insider, Best Books of 2015
“[…] Believable and fanciful. Backman’s smooth storytelling infuses his characters with charm and wit. . . Engaging. . . A delightful story.” --St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Every bit as churlish but lovable as Backman’s cantankerous protagonist in his debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), precocious Elsa will easily work her way into the hearts of readers who like characters with spunk to spare. A delectable homage to the power of stories to comfort and heal, Backman’s tender tale of the touching relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a tribute to the everlasting bonds of deep family ties.” --Booklist (starred)
“Firmly in league with Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman. A touching, sometimes funny, often wise portrait of grief.” --Kirkus Reviews
“Full of heart, hope, forgiveness, and the embracing of differences, Elsa’s story is one that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page.” -Library Journal
"In his second offering, Backman (A Man Called Ove) continues to write with the same whimsical charm and warm heart as in his debut." -Publishers Weekly
"An eclectic cast of characters, fairy-tale wisdom, and a little mystery… one of our favorite novels of the year so far." -SFGate.com
In MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORR, as in his previous novel A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman paints a vivid portrait of the relationship between an older person nearing the end of his or her life, and a young child. There is much to learn from people at the opposite ends of life. As we also discover in his latest novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, with a boy and his grandfather. All fairy tales take their life from the fact of being different. The power of storytelling! “Only different people change the world,” Granny used to say. “No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.” Granny has always loved treasure hunts. She does not color within the lines; a total disregard for social niceties. Everyone thinks she is crazy. A trouble-maker. Rip-roaring life is an adventure. A superhero for her granddaughter, Elsa. They both are misunderstood. “Because all seven-year-olds deserve superheroes. And anyone who doesn’t agree needs their head examined.” Elsa is seven years old. Not quite eight yet. She is smarter than her years, an old soul. She is different. Her Granny is her best friend and teaches her about life through stories. Her only friend. She does not fit in at school. Intuitive, Elsa, loves her Granny. She is eccentric, her protector, and the one who tells her nightly bedtime fairy tales in their small apartment in the Land of Almost-Awake. (Miamas, Miploris, Mimovas, Wolfheart, the Chosen One, the sea-angel, etc.) “Grow up and be different and don’t let anyone tell you not to be different; because all superheroes are different.” With an array of misfits, a neighborhood apartment full of colorful eccentric quirky witty characters. We also meet Britt-Marie (we hear more from in) Britt-Marie Was Here. “Because if a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal.” Elsa’s parents are divorced and she spends time at both households. Her mom has remarried and currently pregnant. Granny is keeping a secret from Elsa. She has cancer. However, when she dies she is angry and alone, full of emotions. She has left her a treasure hunt. “Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild's ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong. Especially then, in fact. A grandmother is both a sword and a shield.” Now, Elsa is left with the task of delivering her grandmother’s final letters of apology to all other residents of the building—The Monster, a hulking, quiet germaphobe; Alf, a tough-talking, curmudgeonly cabbie; Britt-Marie, the nervous wife of a businessman (Kent), and others—whom she feels she mistreated during her lifetime. Is there a connection to her granny, her stories, neighbors, and her characters? Grief, adventure, humor, emotions, and love all collide.Endearing and whimsical fairy tales provide a way to teach children (and adults) some fundamental truths about the world. I listened to the audiobook and Joan Walker as always, delivers a captivating performance!
Hey, being a boomer, I even enjoy my seven-year-old grandson's company sometimes more than my uptight forty-year-old son. There is a bond, which often skips a generation. Of course, those are the joys of being a grandparent, when life is simpler, and not as structured. We are wiser, of course :)
I enjoyed my Fredrik Backman binge read this weekend, making my way through all his endearing and charming stories. This was my last one.
Looking forward to Beartown, coming May 2017 (Atria Books) a poignant, charming novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal, and the amateur hockey team that might just change everything. Interview: Author Fredrik Backman talks to Drummond Moir about his book Reading Guide
About the Author
Fredrik Backman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Read More
New York Times The Man Behind ‘A Man Called Ove,’ Sweden’s Latest Hit Novel