I was going to write this review immediately after finishing the last page of this novel but couldn’t. I wouldn’t have been able to string two sentences together, let along see my computer screen through my teary eyes. So here’s the disclaimer: I know I’m gushing, I know. But just bear with me.
Spoiler Free Review
Title: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises (also called My Grandmother Sent Me to Tell You She’s Sorry in other editions).
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: In 2015 by Spectre.
“No-one is braver and wyser and stronger than you. You are the best of us all. Grow up and be different.”
Meet Elsa, a seven – almost eight – year old, with a strong mind, kind heart and an unbelievable bond with her Grandmother. Together, they explore worlds of dreams and storytelling, and get into quite a lot of trouble. To Elsa, there is no-one better than her Grandmother – her Grandmother is a superhero. So when Granny gives Elsa a task – one she deems difficult and almost impossible – Elsa puts those thoughts aside and takes on the challenge: delivering apology letters to those her Grandmother has wronged in her lifetime. Whilst doing so, Elsa learns a lot about love, sacrifice and the origins of Granny’s stories.
I was first drawn into this story by the wacky title, as I am a sucker for books with strange names. I stayed, however, for the heart of the story, and how lovable the characters were. Each of the people Elsa encounters is real: there’s no other way to put it. They are people you recognise in the street, people who live next door to you – their ways and personalities and life-stories are ones you’ve heard before, and that makes them even more meaningful and endearing. Elsa, our main character, reminded me of the many strong-willed girls I have come across in my classroom – she knows what is right (in her mind), knows what she wants and she’ll get it, using her charm and inquisitive nature to help her. She’s also a very perceptive character, understanding about the struggles of her neighbours and the intricacies of life – and that was refreshing in this read, I found, as it was not adults uncovering the “truths” of life, it was our seven year old hero.
The plot moved quickly, and given how invested I was in those characters, I flew through the read without wanting to stop for a breath. It took on a mystery vibe as you, along with Elsa, uncover what has happened in the other characters lives – in particular that of her hero, her Granny. I wanted to know more, wanted more to be uncovered. And more than anything, I wanted Elsa to gain the experience, knowledge and closure that her little heart so desperately wanted. I wanted that for her. It’s important to note that this book does deal with themes of death and grief (it’s not a spoiler to say so) but these themes are dealt with gently and softly, making even more of an impact. It definitely tugs at the heartstrings and for me, brought up feelings and thoughts of those I had lost. Believe me, the tears were very real.
Someone, when talking about this book and saying I was going to read it soon, replied that it would probably make more of an impact because I was a girl who has a strong relationship with her grandmother. Having read this, I agree and disagree. It was hard not to see the similarities between my relationship with my grandmother, and the one between Elsa and Granny. We insert ourselves into the stories we read and it makes them more meaningful. However, more than anything else, this is a story about a bond between two individuals, and how learning more about someone only strengthens that bond. Therefore, I would recommend this book to anyone – it was funny (I work with seven and eight year olds daily and what comes out of their mouths sometimes is downright hilarious!), it was heartfelt; it was an emotional roller coaster and I am so glad I have taken this ride. This will be a reread in years to come, I’m sure of it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Backman also has a previous novel, A Man Called Ove, which I’ll definitely be picking up soon. There is also a new novel focussing on one of the secondary characters in this novel, Britt Marie, which could be an interesting read too.
If any of you have the chance to pick this up and read this soon, do it. You honestly won’t regret it.