Book Reviews

my grandmother asked me

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my grandmother

I picked up the book my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry from a shelf in the Miami airport. The title caught my eye right away. I had never read anything by Fredrik Backman, but this book looked special.

The description on the back reads: “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 I began reading, my first impression was that the book was kind of quirky, kind of whimsical, and not what I usually read. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the book. I stayed in, though, for all 370 pages.

At its heart, this book is about the love of a granddaughter for her grandmother and so many of us can relate to the importance of grandparents in our lives. It’s also about how many lives we live. A grandmother is not just a grandmother. She is many things and she had a full life long before she was a grandmother. The way that the characters are woven and revealed in this novel is what kept me reading.

Backman brilliantly told a story about what matters. Reading will encourage you to ponder your own unique legacy. You will think about the relationships you hold dear. You might picture someone you know who is like Granny – a personality larger than life and a heart at the center of the family. The story might stir up emotions as you recall loss. It’s a worthy read, a good book to slip into to escape everything else in the world.

Some of my favorite gems from the novel…

“There’s something special about a grandmother’s house. You never forget how it smells.”

“And then Elsa thinks that she’ll ask Granny in the morning. And then one morning there is no morning anymore.”

“It’s possible to love your grandmother for years and years without really knowing anything about her.”

“Granny then said the real trick of life was that almost no one is entirely a shit and almost no one is entirely not a shit. The hard part of life is keeping as much on the not-a-shit side as one can.”

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