12 January 2016

Books: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry By Fredrick Backman (2015)

"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.

Fredriks Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is really about female empowerment (Elsa does not comprehend why she can’t like Spider-Man), about embracing all your oddities, and being the individual you were meant to be (there is irony that I finishing this book when world broke that David Bowie had passed). She’s precocious, wise (as all kids are in TV dramas and sitcoms, and in Roald Dahl books) beyond her years. But the book is also about loss and how we deal with it. Much like A Man Called Ove, this book goes with the idea that we hide our true selves behind masks, never letting out true selves out. Elsa needs to deal with the loss of her grandmother, but is surrounded by people –including her divorced parents- whom don’t know the first thing about taking care of their emotional life, let alone the emotional life of a seven (almost eight) year-old girl. But since a lot of parents are not honest with their children, Elsa decides the only way she can move on from her grandmother’s death, is to go on this journey and take, the mostly obtuse adults, along with her.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry it a bit more serious than A Man Called Ove, but the darker themes remain. It’s a striking fairy tale that lives in the same neighborhood, as I said as Dahl, with a dash of Neil Gaiman to make it modern.  

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