The novel, my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry, by Fredrik Backman is a heartwarming story of a granddaughter’s love for her grandmother. It is through the grandmother’s influence that the young protagonist, Elsa, with her quick wit and smart mouth, learns to address a cast of characters and makes this novel come alive.
When her grandmother passes away, Elsa struggles to find her place with her pregnant mother or mum, stepdad, and new baby to arrive, and her biological dad, with whom she finds it hard to communicate. While Elsa tries to understand the people around her, she soon discovers that her grandmother had plans for Elsa after her death, and that is, to discover and deliver several letters as a sort of treasure hunt for Elsa. In dispersing these unique letters, Elsa discovers hidden truths about the people surrounding her life. As stories and tragedies arise in her realization of these people, Elsa learns that her grandmother is still teaching her even without her physical presence.
Stylistically, Backman’s writing style is eloquent and versatile as always; however, with the story of Elsa and her grandmother, there are sections that are a bit difficult to comprehend with the fantasy elements of their secret language and secret world, the secret world which the grandmother has taught to Elsa. For myself, there were parts where I became distracted mainly because of the inclusion of these fantasy elements. Others, however, may enjoy the inclusion of these elements.
The main theme of love and acceptance is reminiscent of Backman’s other work, The Book of Ove. Although it may be coincidence, the inclusion of the elders in the cast of characters is seen in both of Backman’s works and may suggest the reverence which we should pay to those who are older and wiser than ourselves. It may also suggest to the reader that elders should be cherished while they are still present in our lives.
In either case, the novel, my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry, is again a gem of Backman’s efforts to create a worthwhile and eye-opening novel filled with lines and dialogue that keep you reading and wanting more.