Fredrik Backman undoubtedly has become my go to author for reading books that will cheer me up, remind me what it is like to be creative, imaginative, not scared and assuring me that the world is my oyster.
Without making things complicated or creating bizarre scenarios, he pens down stories of normal everyday people and make them seem extraordinary.
And in those ordinarily simple stories you find a lesson so profound it leaves you feeling extraordinary.
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies is basically an ode to grandparents who often get looked over or forgotten at the role they play in child’s life. This particular story also shows how some parents (who did a bad job of raising their own kids), can often be given a redemption arc in the form of their grandchildren.
“Only different people change the world,” Granny used to say. “No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.”
So we embark on a journey with the almost 8 year old Elsa who is different than the rest of the 7 year olds of the world and her really eccentric but loving granny. Each night they fly off to the Land of Almost Awake on cloud elephants in the Kingdom of Miamas where fairytales never end.
“Because not all monsters were monsters in the beginning. Some are monsters born of sorrow.”
But then one day Elsa’s granny leaves her a very important mission to complete and realises that granny won’t wake up no more. Through those letters Elsa meets people she often misjudged for something else and starts identifying them as pivotal characters in the stories granny old.
“Elsa decides that even if people she likes have been shits on earlier occasions, she has to learn to carry on liking them. You’d quickly run out of people if you had to disqualify all those who at some point have been shits.”
One by one, they become her guardians and her granny’s actions in the past are revealed to her. But through it all, one fact can never be overlooked or scratched which is: each kid deserves a superhero in the form of their grandparent, and Elsa realises just how heroic and unconventional her granny was in the past.
“The currency there is imagination; instead of buying something with coins, you buy it with a good story. Libraries aren’t known as libraries but as “banks,” and every fairy tale is worth a fortune.”
I have always wondered how Backman can be so observant as to describe his characters with such microscopic details, they seem too real to be fictional. His detail oriented writing further strengthens the reader’s imagination to be transported into the world where the story is alive.
“Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero. That’s just how it is.”
It is one of those finest pleasures of reading a book that you feel not only connected to the characters, but can imagine the story happening in real life, like a movie in your own mind.
“People have to tell their stories, Elsa. Or they suffocate.”
The sense of community and belonging were so integral to this story that it binds every single lesson you learn together. Be it Elsa’s wit or logic, her flawed yet caring parents, her troubled neighbours and of course, her granny, they all surround Elsa in a circle after granny dies to make her realise that she is not alone.
“… if a sufficient number of people are different, no one has to be normal.”
That she may have lost her crime partner, her hero, her best friend, but she still lives in all the people she had touched in her life and it is upto Elsa to carry on her legacy.
“It’s much more difficult to have conflict when there are cookies around.”
I believe everyone who is going through a rough phase, turbulent flight or a bad patch in life, needs this book as much as they needed their imagination and creativity as a child.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “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”
- Reader level: So easy, so smooth. Flows like the river.
- Should you read: Please do.
- Would I read it again: Of course.
Till next time,