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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's…

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (2013)

by Fredrik Backman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Britt-Marie

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3441484,421 (3.98)167
"From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales"--
  1. 10
    House of the Winds by Mia Yun (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though the settings differ, both captivating, character-centered novels portray girls who learn of the world through eccentric older women's traditional tales of peaceful realms.
  2. 11
    Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In these moving, whimsical tales, imaginative storytellers mix the fantastical with the mundane, leaving it to a now-adult man in Big Fish and a small girl in My Grandmother Asked Me to sort between the two as they process their grief.… (more)

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» See also 167 mentions

English (142)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
I bought “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry” because the title intrigued me and anyway, who could resist the little girl and the scarf-wearing dog on the cover?

At the start of the novel Elsa is seven and her grandmother, Elsa’s personal super-hero, is seventy-seven. The two of them are in league with one another against a world too stupid to see that being different is a gift.

In other hands, this might have degenerated into a Hallmark movie, good enough to get you through a rainy afternoon, but soon gone from your memory. In Fredrik Backman’s hands it became something truly remarkable: a new fairy tale that delivers old truths so that they taste as fresh as newly baked biscuits.

“My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry” is so good, it’s hard to know where to start when explaining just how good it is.

Should I start with the unique voice the story is told in? The beautiful simplicity of the language? The deft interweaving of the myth and fairy tale and reality?

Or perhaps I should speak about the bravery of an almost eight-year old girl in confronting grief and loss, knowing that they can’t be defeated but must not be surrendered to?

Or the way the book unearths adult truths through the eyes of a child who is smart enough to understand the importance of reading “quality literature” like “Harry Potter” and the “X-Men” to gain an understanding not only of how the world works but how it should work?

Maybe I should comment on the fact that I never once felt as if I was reading a translation (except perhaps from the writer’s imagination to mine) or that the narration was so perfect it made the words spark and flash in my mind?

In fact, none of these are the right place to start. They walk around the book rather than live in it.

I’m sure that the right place to start is how this book made me feel.

It made me want to be better than I am. It gave me hope that I can be better than I am. It gave me permission to forgive myself when I fail to be better. It reminded me that imagination is the birth-place of hope and love and bravery. Most of all, it made me want to defend the castle and take care of those I love (you’ll know what this means when you read the book).

This is one of those wonderful, perfectly formed, books that goes beyond being a beautifully crafted piece of writing to become something that has a soul of its own.

For such books there is nothing to be done except say, “Please read this”.

To tempt you to do that, here are some of my favourite quotes

“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.”

“When it comes to terror, reality’s got nothing on the power of the imagination[.]”

“Only different people change the world,” Granny used to say. “No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.”

“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. A grandmother is both a sword and a shield.”

“Granny was the sort of person you brought with you when you went to war, and that was what Elsa loved about her.”

“People who have never been hunted always seem to think there’s a reason for it. ‘They wouldn’t do it without a cause, would they? You must have done something to provoke them.’ As if that was how oppression works.” ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
One of the best books I've read in a long time! A beautiful story. ( )
  lvdark | Apr 29, 2020 |
4* ( )
  gumnut25 | Apr 21, 2020 |
Elsa is seven years old and almost eight and she think that she has the coolest granny. In fact, she’s a superhero to her and her superpower is storytelling. Others take a very different view of her though, thinking she is either eccentric, but most people to be honest just think she is crazy. The story begins though with her grandmother having just been arrested for throwing animal poo at the police after they had broken into the zoo. She had only done it to try to cheer Elsa up after a really bad day at school. It worked, but Elsa’s mother was really not very happy about picking up her daughter and mother from the police station at 1 am…

Her granny has lots of secrets, one of Elsa’s favourites is the imaginary world of Miamas; in this world, she is taken on lots of quests and adventures and this helps her get over her parent’s separation and subsequent divorce. One day though, she hears another of Granny’s secrets that will rock her safe and happy world. She is left a pile of letters by her Granny that she wants her to take around to friends from the past, each one with a personal message to the recipient as well as sending regards and apologising for past deeds…

As Elsa starts to deliver these letters to people around the block of flats that they share, she begins to realise the connections between everyone around to her Granny.

It is a mix of fantasy and contemporary fiction that seems to work fairly well, though it isn’t always easy to see where the boundaries are and who can see the imaginary creatures that Elsa can see. Elsa seems much more advanced than any seven years old than I have ever known too and I would have liked more of the story leading up to this as her Granny seemed larger than life character. I thought that this was a much better book than his previous book I’d read, A Man Called Ove, which to be perfectly frank I just found annoying. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Grandma is a character and when she dies, she leaves instructions for her 8-year-old granddaughter to deliver letters to all the people Grandma has offended. One page you’re laughing, the next page you’re crying. This has more emotion and depth than _A Man Called Ove_. It’s a book filed with interesting characters. ( )
  brangwinn | Apr 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
A contemporary fairy tale from the whimsical author of A Man Called Ove (2014)...This is a more complex tale than Backman’s debut, and it is intricately, if not impeccably, woven. The third-person narrative voice, when aligned with Elsa’s perspective, reveals heartfelt, innocent observations, but when moving toward omniscience, it can read as too clever by half. Given a choice, Backman seems more likely to choose poignancy over logic; luckily, the choice is not often necessary. As in A Man Called Ove, there are clear themes here, nominally: the importance of stories; the honesty of children; and the obtuseness of most adults, putting him firmly in league with the likes of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.

A touching, sometimes-funny, often wise portrait of grief.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fredrik Backmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Koch, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sybesma, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the monkey and the frog. For an eternity of ten thousand tales.
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Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel.
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