I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything in a while, some of that’s due to my busy summer and some of it is due to not knowing what to write about. So, to get back into the swing of things, let me tell you all about a book I just finished by Fredrik Backman called My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.
The novel follows Elsa, an almost-eight-year-old living in Sweden. She doesn’t have many friends and is bullied mercilessly in school. Her grandmother was always her support system and her superhero, telling her fairytales and taking her to the Land-of-Almost-Awake, a kingdom where imagination rules and everyone is a little bit different. Sadly, for Elsa, her parents are divorced, she’ll have a new half-sibling soon which makes her feel even less important, and unbeknownst to her, her grandmother has cancer and does not have much time left.
I’ll try to avoid giving too many spoilers but I’ll try to give some context. Unable to return to the Land-of-Almost-Awake, Elsa is sent on a treasure hunt by her grandmother to deliver letters to the neighbors in their house. The consistent theme among them being that they are apologies from her grandmother to each of the residents in the house and Elsa then learns the backstory to each of them. She discovers that some people are not “total shits,” and helps many get through the losses that shape them, realizing that many of the neighbors are also characters in her grandmother’s fairytales.
Slowly, Elsa makes friends with the neighbors and eventually becomes less lonely, as every almost-eight-year old should have both superheroes and friends. She teams up with her neighbors against the mysterious and threatening shadow that has been hunting Elsa since her granny passed away, coming out victorious in the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, Backman has a way with words and emotions that make you see what his characters were feeling and see what they were feeling. Throughout the book, I wanted to be friends with the characters, empathize with them and help them through their struggle. Backman takes the reader on an emotional journey, investigating loss, anger, and forgiveness as Elsa makes her own journey delivering her grandmother’s letters.
Other than a few passages that I had to reread, I do not have complaints about either the writing style or the plot. I was kept guessing throughout the story, very engaged and intrigued and certainly never bored. As someone who has always loved stories, it was an interesting and heartwarming story about the power of stories and how they bring people together. I highly recommend this novel to anyone wanting a good read that blends fictional reality and fantasy, and I’m definitely not sorry to praise it so highly.