My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

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Elsa’s granny is certainly “different” –and Elsa knows how complicated, even burdensome, that can be.  But Elsa also knows that even while she can argue for hours, even days with her granny (mainly about the fairytale world they’ve constructed), she always knows that Granny has her back.  So what happens if something happens to Granny…?

Utilizing the world of fantasy, Elsa’s Granny helps Elsa escape a world in which she feels alienated and lonely because she is “different.” Unfortunately, because of how closely this is entwined with the actual storyline, there is vast description of this fantasy world, to which I personally felt disconnected.  These parts lost me a little.  On the other hand, the parts that were real pulled me back in.  And while I was not crazy about the fairytale parts, I do appreciate the brilliance of the author’s use of this as a vehicle to show Granny’s eccentric but steadfast show of love for Elsa.

What is most beautiful about this book are the characters.  They are real, imperfect, temperamental, sweet, and human.  And all are portrayed with such grace and subtlety in the course of the telling of the story.  The way the story is constructed, there seems to be a wall of characters built around Elsa, who function as a fortress to protect her and love her.  It is very moving and I have to confess that I did choke up at times.

All in all, it’s a beautiful story that slowly and very definitely works its way into your heart.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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Ove has lost the one person in his life who understood him (his wife) as well as the purpose for him to get up each morning (his job) and he’s now trying to take matters into his own hands.  All he wants is to be reunited with his only love, his wife, Sonja.  Unfortunately, each attempt he makes on his own life gets interrupted by his prying, needy neighbors.  Even the cat seems to need him.  Is everybody helpless?  In spite of his grumpy-old-man exterior, Ove endears himself to everyone around him who recognize that he is in fact the kindest of hearts and the truest of souls.

Because of the tone of the story, which is written through the prism of Ove’s cynical and rigid perspective, I found it, at first, hard to get engaged in this story.  But gradually, there grew moments of subtle tenderness that were so utterly sweet that I was reeled in.  By the end, I was just mush.  Teary mush, actually.

The writing in this story is really very beautiful.  I so admire a writer who can create such colorful and deeply genuine characters as these and who can create such subtly charming moments between them.  Even when Ove is ranting at another – and he does so at almost every  other character – you feel the affection that is exuding between them.  You cannot help either smiling or tearing up through much of the story.

I highly recommend this book.  Just stick with it – it’s worth it!