From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.
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.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
Oh, my goodness, how I loved this book. I think that everyone should have a touch of Granny in them and that every child needs someone like Granny throughout their childhood. I have to qualify though that as much as I would love to know granny, I would not want her for a relative unless I was seven (almost eight).
The story centers upon two important characters with an eclectic ensemble cast. Our first character of primary importance is Elsa who is struggling to overcome her perceived differences from other children along with nightmares and a full bucket of fears. Granny is our second character of note. Granny is like no other Granny. Honestly, she is a kick…when you are reading about her. Again, tough for grownups to have as a relative! Granny is gifted with an unbounded imagination with which she cleverly helps Elsa accept herself and her life as it was given to her. Elsa is taken on a journey like none other where she learns that even if she is a little bit different that there is an incredible value in just being herself. I love this quote that comes from Elsa’s narrative:
One adventure was traded for another upon Elsa’s birth. Granny had kind of stunk as a parent to Elsa’s mom as she was primarily traveling the world round on medical aid missions. Elsa is her opportunity to make up for some lost family time. Not surprisingly, with Granny’s uhhhhhmmm “adventurous spirit”, in close quarters she tends to get on absolutely everyone’s last nerve. Fortunately, though, Elsa knows "that all of the things that Granny did were for [her] sake". People that live a life full on are known to step on toes occasionally, in actuality everyone can, but crazy grannies do it more; hence the need for her to say that she’s sorry.
As Granny is coming close to death she creates a treasure hunt for Elsa. Don’t forget that Granny loves treasure hunts! The tasks that Elsa is given help her to understand Granny and the people who live around her in a better way while simultaneously offering closure for those from whom Granny seeks forgiveness. It brings a whole group of people together who had lived separate lives within close proximity. Each one of them shared a common tie to Granny but were not much more than neighbors in the same building. Through this adventure, a community is born. Through this adventure, a child is healed.
Don’t miss this read. It will fill you with laughter, it will have you shaking your head, it will make you wonder how much crazier the story can get, and it will make you shed a tear or two.
I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. My thanks to the author and publisher.
Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and are being published around the world in more than twenty-five languages. His latest novel is Britt-Marie Was Here. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.