My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell you She’s Sorry, by Swedish author Fredrik Backman, is – as I understand it – the second in a trilogy that includes A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. I enjoyed A Man Called Ove very much, and Britt-Marie Was Here (which I read first, not knowing at the time that it was actually the third book in a trilogy) is one of my favorite books of all-time.
So, I began reading this book with great confidence. I thought I would like it. I wanted to like it. I tried like crazy to like it. Unfortunately, I simply didn’t.
Elsa is 7 years old, and her grandmother is her best friend. Her mother and father are divorced and in new relationships. Elsa is bullied at school, but the distractions of everyday life prevent either her mother or father from handling Elsa’s problems very effectively. Only her grandmother, who doesn’t seem to care much about what others think of her, is Elsa’s true champion.
The two of them are so close that they have a secret language and a secret world – the Land of Almost Asleep. It was the great deal of time that the author devoted to this fantasy land that prevented me from enjoying the book. I tried. I skimmed over these parts, but I knew that they were probably important, and they were. My boredom and disinterest in the fantasy part of this novel prevented me from getting out of it what it seems most readers enjoyed.
Elsa’s feelings about her grandmother are best defined by Elsa herself, thusly: Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details. Even when you are wrong. Especially then, in fact.
As a grandmother, I can attest that there are no truer words spoken. That quote is the best thing in the book, as far as this reader is concerned.
The ending tied together the many stories, but by that time I had lost interest. It was fun to see that Britt-Marie was in this book, which (as I mentioned above) was actually published before the novel devoted to her. It gave me good background for that novel.
I am definitely in the minority in my dislike of the book, so I suggest if you liked the other books, you should give this one a try.