Whew, that title is a mouthful. After reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman; I couldn’t wait to start his next book, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I have to be honest with you,
The book took me awhile to get through and I didn’t love it at first, but I’m disappointed in myself that I almost gave up and here’s why. The book is a little chaotic, make believe and it goes back and forth between the character’s lives and the imaginary world that has been created for Elsa.
Elsa is a precocious 7 year old. She is bullied and picked on at school, having no friends. She is a child of divorce who is struggling to find where she fits in with her Mum, Ulrika and new husband George; they are expecting a new baby whom Elsa refers to as halfie. Dad now has Lisette and a new life. Elsa’s superhero, best friend and only friend is Granny, her Mum’s mum. They live next door to Granny in an apartment building, that is full of interesting characters with a bit of mystery.
Granny is a bit wacky, well….wacky, she speaks her mind with no filter. She offends people, breaks the rules and takes Elsa on her crazy adventures, but loves her granddaughter unconditionally and that is exactly what Elsa needs. Granny is Elsa’s own personal army in life.
The day Dad moved out, Elsa started sneaking out at night, going to Granny’s when she couldn’t sleep. She had read on the internet about children who died in their sleep and she is afraid.
Granny snuggles with her and creates this imaginary world for Elsa; the Land of Almost Awake. The land has 6 kingdoms and each kingdom has it’s own inhabitants. This is where I let the details trip me up a bit. I tried to understand each land and those that live in the lands. DON’T let yourself get hung up on these details, it isn’t that important and it all comes together in the end.
At times the book is a little like the old movie “Rear Window”, as you will get to know the people and families that live in the building with Elsa and her family, each and everyone will play an important role in Elsa’s young life.
If you don’t want a bit of spoiler, stop here. I won’t reveal the ending, but maybe more information than you want.
When Granny suddenly dies of cancer, Elsa is a lost soul. She is crushed and broken to her core, now what?
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a joy and will take you on a journey with Elsa. I loved it when I quit trying to be so obsessed with understanding the imaginary world. Granny sets Elsa on one of her beloved treasure hunts. She has left letters in odd places for her to find, and sends her looking for the people the letters are addressed to. Granny wants to apologize to each person she offended or hurt throughout her life. Through this treasure hunt, Elsa learns more about her Granny and family that she never knew. She finds where she fits in the world, with her parents and becoming a big sister.
The story is of love, loss, learning to understand people and why it is okay to be different. She discovers that people aren’t necessarily who you think they are and there are reasons behind their odd lives. As I read the last chapter and Epilogue, I truly was sad to see it coming to an end.
You will find book club questions at the end of the book if you are reading for your book club event. If not reading it for book club, read through the questions and think about how you would answer the questions, it will make you look deeper in to the story.
I encourage you to read it and please let me know what you think of the book once you are done.