As children we live on fairy tales. They tend to be the first stories we’re told, our first insights into the world of make believe. It’s no different for Elsa. But what Elsa doesn’t know is that the fairy tales her grandmother tells her are more than just stories, and that there are truths behind the fantasy.
Elsa’s grandmother is eccentric and out spoken, never afraid to say what’s on her mind or do what she wants, even at the age of 87. Many people would describe her as “perky”. To Elsa, that is just granny. Every night, Elsa and her grandmother travel to the Land-of-Almost-Awake where they go on adventures and meet all different kinds of people. When her grandmother dies, Elsa is sent to deliver letters from her grandmother to the other members of the house. Within the letters is a simple message: I’m sorry. For what, Elsa does not know. Nor does she know why her grandmother made her promise not to hate her after Elsa learns who she was before she became a grandmother. One way or another, Elsa is determined to learn the answers to these mysteries.
Similar to A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry made me experience the gamut of human emotions. Backman has a way of making a reader laugh out loud with one sentence and then reduce them to tears in the next. The writing is clear and concise, and the story was well paced, keeping the reader intrigued with no lulls in the plot. I would say there is nothing that I didn’t like about this book. Once I began to read it, I did not want to stop, but when I had to I was constantly thinking about it. I even recommended it to at least two people before I was even finished reading it.
Backman incorporated stories about the lives of the other members of the house disguised as fairy tales to help move the plot along, giving the reader information about characters before you know that that’s who it was about. There were several points in the story where I caught on and it was the greatest to feel that “Ah ha!” moment. It was satisfying to be shown the backgrounds of different characters in such a creative way, and I really appreciated how it was done. Although the stories are not similar, the way the fairy tales were used reminded of The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert—another amazing book that made my heart sing.
After reading and falling in love with My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, I am determined to read all of Fredrick Backman’s books, and I hope that I can convince other readers to do the same.