My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman fulfilled
the prompt “Book Featuring Three Generations” for the PopSugar 2021 Reading
Challenge. In this novel, we see a seven-year-old child, her mother, and a bit
of the grandmother who passes at the beginning.
I work at a library, and I’ve seen this novel go out frequently. Just by the title, I
wasn’t much interested in the book. I never like the most popular books, and
this seemed to be written to sell books. Then I realized it was by the same
author as A Man Called Ove. So I grabbed it.
Spoilers—Man, I cried a lot. God, this was a good
book. It’s in the top
10 of my books for the year and absolutely in the top 100 of all my reads. Mr. Bakhman
wove a story of love, generations, understanding, and healing. By the time I finished,
I wanted to start again.
Elsa is dealing with the death of her grandmother.
The two had a special bond. Granny created a magical world for her grandbaby
called the Land of Almost Awake. Together, they enjoyed vibrant stories and
beautiful tales from this sleepy land. Elsa loved this place and needed it as
she dealt with the harsh realities of being a schoolgirl who doesn’t quite fit in. Once Granny
passed, Elsa could no longer enter the fantasy world, and she’s forced to deal
with reality. A reality where a large dog seems to occupy its own apartment. A
world where her mother is about to get remarried and their building is filled
with strange characters.
Granny leaves a scavenger hunt for her granddaughter.
Elsa has to deliver apology letters to various tenants in the building. She
begins to interact with the interesting group. She discovers that perhaps Granny’s stories were not
completely fiction. The large dog she befriends is the Wurst from the fairy
tales and more spoilers. The story unfolds in such a wondrous way; I can’t say
more without spoiling the tale.
The book brought up many interesting topics. To go
with the prompt, the idea of generational knowledge arose. Granny knew a great
deal and had an amazing life. She passed her stories on to her granddaughter
through play. Elsa didn’t
realize she was learning family history as she played the game. I love that. We
forget to ask our parents and grandparents about their history, their lives,
what they’ve lived through. My father-in-law passed, and we’ve lost all his
history, his family stories, as well as the man himself. Elsa learned so much
about her grandmother without knowing it. And even though the woman is gone, Elsa
still has those stories.
Many reviewers disliked the book because of the
narrator only being seven. I’ve read so many young adult and children’s books
that it was a non-issue for me. Children know far more than we give them credit
for. As a former teacher, I can tell you with sincere honesty that there are
children like Elsa—wise beyond their years, but still young and vulnerable.
always hard to write about a book I love without being too spoilery or gushy.
But I loved this story, and I think you will too.
I give My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman Five Giant