my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry.
In this Fredrik Backman novel 7 year old Elsa is sent on a sort of scavenger hunt / apology-tour on behalf of her grandmother. This takes place after her grandmother passes away, and Elsa must learn how to grieve and deal with death for the first time. Throughout Elsa’s journey the reader is introduced to the other people who live in the same building as her and learns how each person is connected to her grandmother.
Elsa and her grandmother had an imaginary world called Miamas, which was made up of different kingdoms that all help to address different struggles, joys, and stereotypes that people face throughout their lives. During her journey of apologizing to different people, the imaginary world of Miamas seems to mix and mesh with her grandmother’s real life.
5/5 on goodreads ~
So this book was not what I was expecting it to be at all. I don’t actually really know what I was expecting it to be – but it wasn’t this. Fredrik Backman has created a brilliantly magical world filled with wonder and heroes and fairytales and victories. The whole world-building of Miamas and its wurses, monsters, the sea-angel, and all the other kingdoms gave this book a ‘Neverending Story’ vibe that I was not anticipating at all.
(But one that I really, really enjoyed.)
At first I wasn’t sure about it, but as the story continued and it became clear exactly how the imaginary land of Miamas and its inhabitants symbolized Granny’s and Elsa’s real world – I was hooked.
All of the other characters in the book have distinct and compelling personalities and stories. Between the Little Princess/Neverending Story feel of the story, and the interwoven stories of the characters, the book could make me laugh and cry in the same chapter.
This story mixed the weight of harsh realities with the hope and innocence of a child’s fantasy world. And this combination resulted in so many sweet lines that made me smile, like –
“You can’t kill a nightmare, but you can scare it. And there’s nothing so feared by nightmares as milk and cookies.”
And although the world building had moments where it felt like it dragged a bit, the characters always made the story worth it. The quirkiness of the grandmother mixed with the adventurous spirit of Elsa always made me keep reading.
There will be a couple of spoilers below – so be warned. 🙂
Random final thoughts on the story:
- I loved all of the characters in this story, they were all so wonderful in their own right. From the wurse to Alf to Wolfheart. I even ended up liking Britt Marie – her story made my heart ache. Between the car crash with her sister and her trying so hard to keep together a clearly one-sided marriage – I just wanted more for her.
“The mightiest power of death is not that it can make people die, but that it can make the people left behind want to stop living.”
- The story of the woman in the black skirt sent chills all the way down my spine. The 2004 tsunami has always sort of left an impact on my mind – even though it didn’t affect me or anyone around me directly, the tragedy and terror of the destruction and death the tsunami left in its wake has always shaken me.
(If anyone has ever seen the movie, The Impossible, let me know.)
- I absolutely loved that the fears in the imaginary world grew bigger with threats and could only be defeated by laughter. Little things like this made the book so much fun to read. The fantasy world was filled with life insights and advice and I ended up with chills quite a few times. Also, the fact that the kingdom names all translated to “ I …” statements such as ‘I dance,’ ‘I love,’ ‘I forgive,’ was so, so lovely.
Have you ever read my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry? Or any other Fredrik Backman novels? What did you think?