Monday, July 30, 2018

My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a unique story with great characters.   It was the May pick for the Kewaunee Library Book Club.  I was engrossed with the first half of the book, but then I missed book club and put it aside to finish up some other books I needed to review for my blog.  I just finally finished reading it.  It was a great book that dealt with grief.

Elsa is seven years old and lives in a flat in a building full of characters.  She lives with her mother and stepfather with her eccentric grandmother next store and a whole host of unique people throughout the building. Elsa is a gifted and extremely smart seven-year-old who has a hard time fitting in at school. At home though, she has her beloved Grandmother who spins tales for her that consists of both truth and fiction in a magical fairy tale world.  As her Grandmother sickens and dies from cancer, Elsa uses these tales to solve a mystery that her Grandmother left her.  She keeps on a trail of letters her Grandmother left and passes them on to their intended with the words “My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.”  Along the way, Elsa gets to know more deeply everyone who lives in her building and how they are interconnected.  She also begins to understand her parents and grandmother more. 

Although Elsa is only seven, this felt like a coming of age novel.  Elsa is learning how to deal with grief, how to deal with being bullied, and about people and what makes them work.  It was an exceptional and interesting story and I really enjoyed it.  I would like to read more books by this author.  I’ve seen his books highly recommended the past few years and it was great that book club and my best friend Jenn finally got me to put one of his books on the top of my list.

I also really liked the cover on this book.  It really intrigued my seven-year-old daughter Penelope and she wanted to know what I was reading.  It was interesting to compare Elsa’s maturity level with Penelope. Penelope is very smart, but Elsa was something else. Elsa is very much more like a teenager than a typical seven-year-old girl.  This is why Elsa has problems at school as she is gifted, and the other children do not understand her.

I also loved how the story wove fairy tale elements throughout the novel and Elsa used them to understand her world.  It made for a magical story.  I also enjoyed Elsa’s love for Harry Potter.

Favorite Quotes:

“Elsa knows what ‘antagonist’ means, because you do if you read quality literature.”

“Elsa hears how the drunk starts singing her song.  Because not all monsters look like monsters.  There are some that carry their monstrosity inside.”

“Harry Potter is important for everyone!”

“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, she thinks, without remembering where she heard that.”

“It’s difficult ending a fairy tale. . . . the problem is this whole issue of heroes at the ends of fairy tales, and how they are supposed to ‘live happily to the end of their days.’  This gets tricky, from a narrative perspective, because the people who reach the end of their days must leave other show have to live out their days without them.”

Overall, My Grandmother Told Me to Tell you She’s Sorry is an exceptional coming of age tale that has great eccentric characters.

Book Source:  The Kewaunee Public Library and borrowed from my best friend Jenn


  1. Well, Backman is a very special writer, so no surprises here!

  2. It's my first Backman novel - I definitely need to read more of them. It was excellent!