Thursday, 25 June 2015

Book review: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman


My edition: Hardback, published on 4 June 2015 by Sceptre Books, 320 pages.

Description: Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy. Standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa runs to her grandmother's stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

So when Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has hurt, it marks the beginning of Elsa's greatest adventure. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones-but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

Rating:



I only discovered author Fredrik Backman a few months ago, but he has already taken a firm spot in my list of absolute favourite authors. Where I thought A Man Called Ove was a unique and beautiful novel (which made me laugh and cry – sometimes even on the same page!), with My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises Backman has taken his unique Scandi humour and engaging writing style to a completely new level of amazing, creating a truly special and memorable read that is going to be hard to beat for my favourite book of the year (I am pretty sure this will be my Station Eleven of 2015; the one novel I cannot stop thinking about and recommending to EVERYONE from friends and family members to strangers on the train. It is *that* good).

Just like Lost & Found by Brooke Davis, which I reviewed yesterday, the main protagonist of this story is a witty, seven-year-old girl, but that's where the similarities end. Where Lost & Found is a whimsical road trip about discovering what's out there in the world, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises does the exact opposite, as protagonist Elsa discovers the secrets of the people closest to her through uncovering the hidden meaning behind the fairytales of the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, which her grandmother has been telling her about all her life.

I am just in awe of Fredrik Backman's incredible imaginative storytelling and the ability to completely pull the reader into his wondrous yet also highly realistic novels. His characters in the first instance may come across as caricatures of ordinary people for comedic purposes, yet as the story progresses the reader comes to realise that there is far more to them than initially meets the eye. They're like onions; each chapter peels back yet another surprising layer, which ultimately creates his complex and fascinating cast of characters.

In My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, each character was one that took me by surprise during Elsa's journey throughout the novel. Tasked to deliver letters from her grandmother to the people who live in the same building as her, people who have been around Elsa her entire life, she uncovers one surprising thing after another; there are monsters living in the flat, heroes and even a Wurse, who is a little bit of both. And as the lines between her granny's imaginary Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas start to blur with the real world, Elsa discovers something incredible about those around her, something that even with all her wit beyond her years and excessive use of Wikipedia she hadn't realised before.

A spin-off on the novel focusing on the character of Britt-Marie has already been published in the author's home country of Sweden and will be released in the UK next year. While Britt-Marie is probably my least favourite character from My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, I just know that my opinion of her will drastically change once I have the opportunity to view the world through her eyes in the unique way that only Backman can, and discover what makes her tick. I don't want to wish away my time but I, for one, can not wait to have the opportunity to delve back into Backman's imaginative and incredibly funny mind.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is a magical and oh so clever fairytale, suitable for all ages, about the real world. Give Fredrik Backman all the awards already, because this is the most memorable and brilliant book I've read all year and I doubt something quite a special will come along before 2015 is over.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:

Website: www.fredrikbackman.com

Twitter: @backmanland


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel through Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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