Book Club: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

You know how the say to never judge a book by its cover? Well that's exactly what I did with this book and boy did it pay off! The title really caught my eye one afternoon while I was browsing in a Barnes and Noble and while I didn't pick it up then, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I woke up in the middle of the night wondering what a grandmother could have possibly done to ask her grandchild to apologize to people she had wronged, in fact! I promptly logged on to Amazon and put this in my cart.

The author, Frederik Backman, is the renowned Swedish author whose other works include A Man Called Ove (which was adapted into an award-winning Swedish film), and Britt-Marie was Here, has been compared to the likes of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman in terms of his witty writing, delightful characters, and ability to talk about complicated subjects with a sweet simplicity and magical charm. Indeed, I saw all of those things in My Grandmother, which was why I couldn't put it down!
Elsa is a precocious 7 year old who loves Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, and looking up difficult words on wikipedia. Granny is a 77 year old who loves smoking, drinking, and defending her granddaughter from bullies. The two make an odd pair of friends, but it works. When Granny passes away, she leaves Elsa a scavenger hunt of apology letters she left for people in her apartment building (all of whom she had wronged in some way) and giving Elsa a story of a mythical imaginary world as a clue. You find out as the story progresses that the imaginary world of "The Land of Almost-Awake," has real-life counterparts and very real stories of sadness, hurt, and fear. You find out that Granny was a badass surgeon in her heyday and served as a doctor in war zones (though they never specify which war, I'm guessing the Gulf War?). The building they lived in was full of people who were affected by the war, and had knew Granny in her prime - when she was an orphaned girl who became a doctor at a time girls weren't expected to. Elsa spends most of the book upset at her granny for dying on her but as she realizes how many lives Granny had saved and touched throughout the years, she forgives her.
I really enjoyed reading this book and parts of it had me tearing up! It's amazing how attached you get to the characters purely through Backman's writing. It's phenomenal! If I had anything to nitpick at, it would be that Elsa acts far too mature for a 7 year old to the point it's slightly unbelievable. If the author said that she was 13, it would make more sense but 7 seemed too far-fetched. He kept trying to play up how smart she was for her age but I still had a hard time believing this kid was really just a normal 7 year old. I read reviews of his other books and that seemed to be a common critique of many of his characters though.
I highly recommend this book if you want an emotional adventure. This book will have you laughing out loud one moment and bawling the next. Truly a captivating and life-changing read. 

4 comments

  1. Dear Deborah, thank you! I really must check out if this book is available in German as I think it is easier for me to read in my language. No wonder you bought the book finally in the middle of the night as the title make me curious, too, and also the pictures is eye-catching :) I like the theme and what your wrote about it ... that's life ...
    xx Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  2. I think we already talked about this book, but I definitely want to add it to my TBR list!

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  3. This post made me want to buy this book! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it!

    http://ariadibari.com

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  4. I love book clubs! Great pick. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

    http://abeautifulheart07.blogspot.com/

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