Reading Challenge 2020: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies – Fredrik Backman

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Hello Loves!

I hope you are all well. I can’t believe we are approaching the end of June. I don’t feel like I’ve been outside properly in months and I’ve kind of lost a sense of what is normal. Weird… Anyway, I’m back into school (we never really closed!) so I’m feeling all kinds of tired. However, I wanted to share with you the book I read for June’s theme: Find a novel with a child narrator. You can find out more about the Reading Challenge here!

For this month, I picked My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologies by Fredrik Backman. You may have heard of this book under a different title if you’re one of my friends abroad: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. Backman is arguably most famous for his hilarious and moving book: A Man Called Ove so I had high hopes for this one. Thankfully, it did not disappoint!

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What’s it all about?

The story is told through the eyes of Elsa who is seven, nearly eight. Her granny is the central figure in her life but Elsa has a secret: her granny is a superhero because every seven year old deserves a superhero. The novel revolves around their setting – a group of flats with a range of residents. Whilst this is physically there, it is a secret world created by Granny that is of most importance to Elsa. The secret kingdom of Miamas, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake.

As a knight of Miamas, Elsa is sent upon a quest following her Granny’s dying wish. One by one she encounters the residents of the house where she lives, each unique and quirky in their own way. Elsa begins to realise how many lives her Granny touched even though her flaws become ever more apparent, something that Elsa didn’t see before. Granny is at the least eccentric, or maybe she’s a genius, a crackpot genius. She revels in rule breaking, thumbing her nose at the world and saying those things that wouldn’t be said in polite society. Elsa adores her granny, who leads her into all sorts of scrapes and thinks that Elsa is the cleverest seven, almost eight year old she knows.

‘Granny lives at the top, of opposite Mum, Elsa and George. Granny’s flat is exactly like Mum’s except much messier, because Granny’s flat is like Granny and Mum’s flat is like Mum.’

Elsa lives at the top of the house in a flat with her mum and George. Elsa’s mum (Urika) is highly organised, married to her job and can sort out, find and categorise anything. It’s her superpower. Elsa’s mum and Granny, despite being flesh and blood are polar opposites. Arguably, Elsa’s mum is saddened by the closeness by her daughter and her mother – something that she does not have.

Elsa’s quest takes her into the lives of the other people who live in the house and she constantly finds parallels between them and the Land-Of-Almost-Awake. This book is written from the unique perspective of a child. Not just any child, Elsa is different. But as Granny says, all the superheroes are different. Spiderman and Wolverine are not like normal people and neither is Elsa. Elsa constantly interprets the world around her by using superheroes to understand how to act, along with a healthy dose of Harry Potter!

The story lurches from the make believe world of Miamas, which overlays the real world with a strange symmetry. Elsa is highly literate, thanks often to Wikipedia and delights in showing her wide vocabulary and the inability to resist making corrections in red pen to public signs that contain errors.

‘You don’t need to close your eyes to get the Land-of-Almost-Awake. In those last few seconds when you’re eyes are closing, when the mists come rolling in across the boundary between what you think and what you just know, that’s when you set off.’ You ride into the Land-of-Almost-Awake on the back of cloud animals, because that’s the only way of getting there.’

Two of Elsa’s most constant companions in her quest are the Wurse and Alf. A Wurse is a large, hairy animal that comes from Miamas and helped win the War-Without-End. Alf is a taxi driver. These two unlikely suspects become the best of friends with Elsa, she needs them to help fulfil her Granny’s wishes.

By the end of her quest, Elsa has followed a thread that is woven through the lives of every resident in the house. A thread that her Granny left behind but has taken her whole life to complete. She has made new friends, defeated an frightening dragon, found the truth about her mother leading to a deeper connection and even reaches out to her estranged father. Quite an accomplishment for a child, even one as different as Elsa!

‘Most likely they told her [Granny] a whole lot of damned things she wasn’t allowed to do, for a range of different reasons. But she damned well did them all the same. A few years after she was born they were still telling girls they couldn’t vote in the bleeding elections but now, the girls do it all the same. That’s damned well how you stand up to bastards who tell you what you can and can’t do. You bloody do those things all the bloody same.’


Final Thoughts

To read this book is to read through the eyes of a child. To experience the confusions, frustrations and delights of a seven, nearly eight year old. This book reads like an adult fairy tale, despite being narrated by a child. It is a blur between childlike innocence and a path being laid by a beloved family member. It addresses the regrets of an adult that has lived her life to the full regardless of what impact it has had on others around them. For some characters, Elsa is there to right the wrongs her Granny made towards some. Whilst she does this, she learns more about her Granny and about her closer family. As a child the immediate family can cause nothing but frustration when you’re growing up. Here, Elsa learns the importance of all family, not just her Granny.

I think this book will make you question your own childhood, as it did me. It’s well worth a read and completely different to anything else I’ve read recently. I’m sure you’ll enjoy being transported as much as I did.

‘Epilogues in fairy tales are also difficult. Even more difficult than endings. Because although they aren’t necessarily supposed to give you all the answers, it can be a bit unsatisfying if they stir up even more questions. Because life, once the story has ended, can be both very simple and very complicated.’

Time to consider July’s book (as if it is nearly July!!) and the theme for this one is: Murder and intrigue abound this month. For this I have chosen a writer I know absolutely nothing about: Michael Connelly. Wish me luck!

Take care everyone. Big love xx

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22 Comments

Filed under Book review, Books, Reading, Reading Challenge 2020

22 responses to “Reading Challenge 2020: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies – Fredrik Backman

  1. I too loved A Man called Ove. Glad this one could live up to the high expectations! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! It sounds amazing… I will surely read it! Excellent post, as usual….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow….gotta read this… can’t wait 😃

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  4. BTW I too love books and baking…

    Like

  5. But I don’t post my baking because I have just started…. But I do put book reviews

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have inspired me to bake more💐💐💐

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Charley, an excellent and thoughful review of this book. I love all of Backman’s books although this was one I had difficulty getting into at first … then I was fell totally for the book, its characters and themes. Have you read ‘Beartown’ yet – highly highly recommend it! Ps. so glad you got the book and enjoyed it – that’s great! Not long until summer holidays and have a wonderful and relaxing break. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the same! It’s the blurring of child narrator but it being an adult book. But what is it? Once I got over that I enjoyed it!
      No, I haven’t!! I’ll have a look for it now. Thank you for everything again! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Books and Bakes! I was completely confused when I saw this review because I first thought it was a follow-up book to My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry! I’m glad I figured out they are the same books 🙂 I read this a couple years ago and liked it. I haven’t read Ove yet, but I did read Britt Marie Was Here and thought it was very good. Hope you are doing well. I am back to work, but still feeling very cautious about the situation. Take care of yourself!

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    • Ooh!! I need to read Brit Marie Was Here. Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I’m very well thanks and you? Plodding along in a distant way till summer. No idea what the next academic year will look like but lots of chat about it from the government here.
      Hope work is going well and you’re safe. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey there! Nabeeha Jameel here! I am SUPER EXCITED to tell you that you have been nominated for the Liebster Award!💗! Would love it if you could accept my nomination! Check it out below- https://brainsstorms.wordpress.com/2020/07/05/all-my-past-awards-sunshine-smart-ass-liebester-kennedy/

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