“We want to be loved. Failing that, admired; failing that, feared, failing that, hated and despised. At all costs we want to stir up some sort of feeling in others. The soul abhors a vacuum. At all costs it longs for contact.”
Over the last few months of having this blog, I have noticed the same books and the same authors multiple times. But, there is one author who I have seen multiple times that always seems to have incredible reviews; Frederik Backman. I decided that I would pick up one of his books and see what all the fuss was about. I decided to read, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. There was something about the synopsis that drew me into the book.
Elsa is a seven-year-old girl, who has very few friends and spends the majority of her time with her grandmother. Elsa and her Granny have a one of a kind relationship and spend their days together getting into trouble, bickering or exploring the world Land-of-Almost-Awake. The land was introduced to Elsa by her grandmother while Elsa was having trouble sleeping. Throughout their relationship, her grandmother was constantly telling Elsa stories about the land. At seven years old, Elsa has the unimaginable happen; her grandmother passes away one night. In the absence of her Granny, Elsa begins to receive letters that her grandmother had wanted to be distributed to those in her life and each one is about how sorry her Granny is. What encompasses this novel is the beautiful story about the relationship between a child and their grandparent and how despite the loss of that person, their love can still continue on.
This book brought out so many emotions as I was reading the story.
It made my heart hurt for Elsa and the absence that she felt without her grandmother. My own Granny passed away 20 years ago… even writing that out doesn’t seem real to me. How has she been gone for 20 years?? It seems like just yesterday that I was playing Go Fish with her and getting frustrated because she ALWAYS beat me. In this book, there’s a line about how you always remember how your grandparents smell and it’s right, after 20 years I can still remember how my Granny smelled when I hugged her.
It made me sad for Elsa’s grandmother. The whole story is about all of the people that her Granny felt that she had let down in her lifetime but she didn’t, she saved them. She made their lives better. Her daughter may have wished that her mother had been around more during her childhood but she tried to make up for that absence by loving her granddaughter with her whole heart. The implications of our choices as we grow older sometimes aren’t visible until it’s deemed “too late.” But, Elsa’s Granny did her best to make up for the decisions she made earlier on.
When Elsa rescues the ‘wurse’ and becomes friends with him, it made my heart ache because I can relate to her. While Elsa doesn’t refer to him as a dog, as the reader we know that’s what a wurse is. The importance of that animal in Elsa’s life was that he served as her security after her Granny’s death. He did his best to be there for Elsa when she needed him most; he didn’t care if her tears dripped on his coat and he served as her protector while she slept. The companionship of an animal is something so incredibly pure. I think of my dogs and just how pure their love is; they do not judge me on my bad days, they are by my side constantly and when I look into their eyes, it is obvious as to how much they love me. Growing up, I had my very own wurse who would follow me around wherever I went. He was my protector, my confidant, my friend and he would have sacrificed everything to keep me safe. His name was Grendel and I can still remember burying my face in his fur and loving his companionship. To all my animal lovers out there, when you read this book be prepared that there will be a point that you will cry… you will cry big tears because you will be able to appreciate the love that the wurse had for Elsa.
I truly loved My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. It was a delightful and easy read that had so much depth to its story. I would love to go back and read it again to be able to appreciate even more of the story. If you haven’t had a chance to read this book, I highly encourage you to. It’s beautiful.