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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

Written by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by Joan Walker


My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

Written by Fredrik Backman

Narrated by Joan Walker

ratings:
4.5/5 (451 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Released:
Jun 16, 2015
ISBN:
9781442389557
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales.

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 takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. 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.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman's internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
Released:
Jun 16, 2015
ISBN:
9781442389557
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and Anxious People, as well as two novellas and one work of nonfiction. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @BackmanLand and on Instagram @Backmansk.


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What people think about My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

4.5
451 ratings / 115 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    The main character in this story is seven year old Elsa, a girl without friends, who is teased and bullied at school. Granny, loves Elsa deeply and even though everyone thinks she is crazy, she will do whatever it takes to make Elsa feel better and take risks. As this story unfolds and you learn more about Granny, it is easy to see why she does what she does, she is a humanitarian who has saved numerous people all the while using her marvelous imagination.

    Granny shares her fairytale world of The Land-of-Almost-Awake with this lonely little girl to help her to cope with her world. The cast of characters living in the apartment complex or house, come alive in the fairytales. When Granny dies of cancer, she leaves letters for Elsa to deliver. This is where the title comes from. All the letter apologize to the receiver. Elsa participates in a type of scavenger hunt trying to figure out where the next letter is she needs to deliver and in her journey discovers more about the people living in the house as well as her own family. Elsa seems to be a lot older than 7 going on 8, but with all the problems and insecurities she has you can see that little girl in her.

    This book is a cross between a fairytale, coming of age type story with Wurses, knights, princesses, princes and more. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to parents and grandparents to show them how to deal with children and help everyone understand that it it wonderful and okay to "Be Different"

    Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
  • (3/5)
    I didn't really like the book at all but it was I've if those books that you feel compelled to find out what is going on and so I had to finish it.
  • (5/5)
    One thing that really stood out: being 'different' is a GOOD thing. I can't love that idea enough!!!
  • (5/5)
    He did it again! He had me so invested in these characters right from the beginning and I had trouble putting it down and walking away. I had trouble when I was finished accepting the fact that the book was indeed, done. Wonderful story teller.
  • (4/5)
    Having read this author before "A man called Ova" I wanted to continue reading his books and I was not let down. A grandmother (a modern woman way before her time) and a retired doctor who travelled the world to help the unfortunate) tells her granddaughter fairy tales. Her mother (who is divorced, remarried and pregnant) and her grandmother plus a dog and several other people reside in an "apartment house". As time passes the tales become more intricate. When her grandmother passes, the little girl inherits the house and is launched on a hunt. The fairy tales are based on the people the house (all of whom are important her grandmother).
  • (3/5)
    This was a lighter read for our book club. Since it is compared to Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl I knew it would be a stretch for me. It reminded me of a foreign film with quirky characters (along the lines of Amelie). Sometimes I had trouble following the fantasy world and characters. The writing also came off as choppy in places, but that may be due to the translation from Swedish to English.
  • (4/5)
    Well developed, diverse characters. A cheeky young girl and her peculiar, defiant grandmother have a very close relationship. The story explains the complex relationships between the grandmother and many unusual tenants of her building. Themes of forgiveness, grief, tolerance, acceptance, caring, and survival evolve as the story unfolds. It is both funny and touching.
  • (4/5)
    “She stands her ground, armed with nothing but the indifference of an almost-eight-year-old to her own physical shortcomings. Which goes a long way.”In “My Grandmother…”, we meet the almost 8 years old Elsa. She’s book-and-life smart, precocious, fierce, warm hearted, and occasionally manipulative especially with her mom. Her granny is her superhero and her best friend, protecting her against the bullies in school, railing against the school administrators, and telling her fairy tales about Miamas with its six kingdoms. Early in the book, Granny, despite her superpowers, succumbs to cancer, leaving Elsa a lonely little girl. On top of that, Mom is pregnant with her half-sibling, dubbed ‘Halfie’; Elsa couldn’t possibly feel more vulnerable. As her last wish, Granny gives Elsa the task/adventure of delivering letters to a group of people, bounded by a backstory that Elsa will discover in her journey. This book has a very good premise. Granny was larger than life; she was a surgeon, traveling the world saving lives, and leaving her impactful footprints everywhere. The book wisely addresses the positives light-handedly while more deeply addresses the consequences of life. Elsa was exposed early to the darkness and lightness of life through Granny’s custom-made fairy tales, which are shared to the reader via Elsa’s recollections, sometimes repeated as each letter and each new character are deeply explored. It’s both a strength and a weakness that the reader can easily guess the characters in the story will mirror the real people. The repeated inclusions of the fairy tales were confusing at times; I almost wanted to assemble a spreadsheet or a flowchart to map the characters and the kingdoms. Instead, I eagerly skimmed ahead to get the story going. The ending was satisfying and wrapped-up as warm-hearted as one would expect from Backman. Some Quotes:On animal instincts:“And in an apartment block on the other side of town, everyone wakes up with a start when the hound in the first-floor flat, without any warning, starts howling. Louder and more heartrendingly than anything they have ever heard coming out of the primal depths of any animal. As if it is singing with the sorrow and yearning of an eternity of ten thousand fairy tales. It howls for hours, all through the night, until dawn.”On idiots – why does this remind me of the current political landscape:“Idiots can’t understand that non-idiots are done with a thought and already moving on to the next before they themselves have. That’s why idiots are always so scared and aggressive. Because nothing scares idiots more than a smart girl.”On oppression – while this was written regarding bullies, it is certainly true for totalitarianism, authoritarianism:“People who have never been hunted always seem to think there’s a reason for it. ‘They wouldn’t do it without a cause, would they? You must have done something to provoke them.’ As if that’s how oppression works.” On being a change agent – simplistic view but there’s some truth to it:“Only different people change the world… No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.”On monstrosity:“…not all monsters are monsters in the beginning, and not all monsters look like monsters. Some carry their monstrosity inside.”On truth – this was an argument about physical books vs. reading off an iPad; made me smile:“Soup is soup whatever bowl it’s in.”On disappointment:“Maybe she was disappointed in you because you’re so disappointed in yourself.”On seeking help – a rather valid point:“’It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves.’‘Someone who wants to help himself is possibly not the one who most needs help from others,’ Elsa objects.’” On missing someone, especially a grandparent:“’Your granny was old.’‘Not to me. I only knew her for seven years. Almost eight.’”On death:“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.”On fears – I have to admit I had not thought of it like this before:“Fears are like cigarettes, said Granny: the hard thing isn’t stopping, it’s not starting.”On living – a quote from “Doctor Glas" by Hjalmar SöDerberg:“‘We want to be loved,’ quotes Britt-Marie, ‘Failing that, admired; failing that, feared; failing that, hated and despised. At all costs we want stir up some sort of feeling in others. The soul abhors a vacuum. At all costs it longs for contact.’”
  • (4/5)
    Loved the voice. Different. Interesting. There were some inconsistencies that should have, I think, been addressed, but it's definitely worth the read.
  • (5/5)
    Best for: Anyone who likes a little whimsy in their storytellingIn a nutshell: Almost-eight-year-old Elsa’s grandmother has died, and sent Elsa on a treasure hunt.Line that sticks with me: “You’d quickly run out of people if you had to disqualify all those who at some point have been shits.” (p 315)Why I chose it: I enjoyed “A Man Called Ove” very much, and when I purchased it the bookseller said this one is even better.Review: This book is a lovely look at grief, and the stories we tell ourselves and others. It is not what I expected, but it is even better.Elsa is almost eight, and her only real friend is Granny, her mother’s mother. Granny smokes and eats cinnamon buns and takes Elsa on adventures, much to the chagrin (so it seems) of Elsa’s mum. Granny and Elsa share a world of fairy tales that span the six kingdoms. Then Granny dies, and Elsa finds herself with a letter to deliver on her Granny’s behalf. Which leads to another letter, and another.Meanwhile, Elsa and her Mum and stepdad live in a house with multiple apartments, apartments that contain their own stories that might appear to be one thing but are revealed as another. I don’t want to share too much because part of the magic, I think, is in the discovery.As I said, I didn’t expect this book to be so tied with a land of make-believe, but I’m glad I didn’t realize that because I might not have picked it up. Instead I was treated to a story that I literally did not put down except for a mid-afternoon walk and a dinner-time movie. It took probably six hours to read and I loved every minute. I squealed, I felt punched in the gut, I cried.Mr. Backman is a deeply talented storyteller, and now I need to go pick up his next book.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book. I like the relationship between the girl and the grandmother. It has some fantasy in it, so for those of you that like things real to life, this is not. It is a good story and has some good lessons in it.
  • (5/5)
    Very interestingly written. The story of fairy tales and reality intermingling in amazingly colorful and intricate ways. A little girl who is lost in a world where the unexpected are protectors and those you think you know are not at all what they appear to be. A delicately entertaining and intoxicating read.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. It charmed me from the start, and it made me teary, which is not an easy task when it comes to the written word. If you ever feel different, if you know the love of a grandmother, or if you're as mad about Harry Potter as our heroine, Elsa, is - read this book.
  • (4/5)
    This book was chosen as a book club book, and I am not sure that I would have picked it up on my own. I loved the grandmother, and Fredrik Backman has created one of my favorite characters ever! With that being said, sometimes I found the story hard to keep straight because of the pretend world and make-believe words. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves to make up stories.
  • (5/5)
    Wow! I absolutely love this book. I'm a sucker for a good granny fairy tale (having a few myself) and how they tie in to reality. Very akin to Big Fish, which I adored for most the same reasons, this book just hot all the warm fuzzies an toasted me up on this chilly October day. The characters, in both forms, were just so well crafted and broken into perfect examples of humanity. I enjoyed corresponding them to their fairy tale personas (sorry, that's a bit of a spoiler there) and how their missions unfolded. This book is a great bedtime story (tho maybe substitute a few words here & there) ... Thank you Fredrik Backman!
  • (2/5)
    I was expecting to love this after "A Man Called Ove" so I, like a couple of other reviewers, was unable to get all the way through the story. Just too much "magical otherworldly" information to wade through. I'm sure I would have loved the dog AND the Monster once we could get the "facts," but I gave up at page 126, sadly.
  • (5/5)
    One very unique little girl and her equally unique grandmother share an incredible fantasy experience, but there's so much more to this novel than that. There is a purpose in everything that the grandmother tells Elsa, and there is an equal purpose to the people who share the apartment building with them and Elsa's mother and step-father. I adored both Elsa and Granny and the world they shared. I did find the real-life incidents a little hard to follow at times, but I think that's just me. There is humor and sadness and much to think about in this book.
  • (5/5)
    Elsa is seven years old and different. She has a grandmother that some would call crazy or eccentric but Elsa believes she has superpowers; she's also Elsa's best and only friend. One of her grandmother's superpowers is telling stories and taking Elsa to the Land-of-Almost-Awake. Elsa's grandmother though has secrets - one of those is that she is going to die. Before she dies she asks Elsa to go on a grand adventure and apologize to people. Elsa doesn't want to do it but she reluctantly agrees, mostly to find out granny's secrets. Along the way she begins to interact with the other people in her apartment building and finds friends, one of those might even be her mom.

    Last year I read "A Man Called Ove" and was put in the life of an old man. This year Backman has put me in the life of a seven-year old - and he does both marvelously. In both stories the main characters have not had easy lives and Backman does a marvelous job of making us feel that sorrow, joy from an old man's or in this case a young girl's perspective. As I read both books Backman grabbed my throat, just tight enough that it made it a little difficult to swallow as the sorrow took hold and just as I thought I was going to let it come out in a sob, he changes direction and instead I let out a chuckle or a smile.

    This is a new favorite author. But don't read this if you want something grand or bigger than life because this is just the opposite - it's everyday life told in the best way.
  • (5/5)
    What a great story-it's a story of family conflict, love, relationships, and fairy tale all rolled into one. I greatly enjoyed reading this, and will keep an eye out for other stories by Backman.
  • (4/5)
    I had to suspend my disbelief that an 8 yr old child would assume her grandmother meant for her to go on a quest upon her death, and then had to suspend my disbelief that she'd have needed at least some direction and guidance as to what to do. Outside of that it was a good book. I enjoyed it.
  • (2/5)
    Now that some time has elapsed since I read this book, I'm able to look upon it more charitably. I loved A Man Called Ove, and I think that made my expectations of this book much too high. The two main characters-- Elsa and her grandmother-- are characters who can tug at your heartstrings. Elsa is scary smart for a seven-year-old, and at times she's very funny. Her grandmother is known for speaking her mind and doing crazy things like standing on the balcony and shooting paintball guns at passing strangers. Even though she could be very funny, I never lost sight of the fact that the old lady would be a real pain in the neck to deal with. If I represented the middle generation between these two, I'd probably be escorted briskly (and gently) to the nearest rest home. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.What I never expected was the fact that this book very quickly became a chore to read. It needed editing and tightening (beginning with the unwieldy title) because the gradual unfolding of key elements of the plot was much, much too gradual. I almost abandoned the book several times, but I just couldn't. I had to know if life was going to be happier for Elsa. So... I found Backman's book to have a great idea that was poorly executed-- and this has made me leary of reading his next book.
  • (3/5)
    I'll admit to being a little disappointed with this book. There just wasn't enough plot, and the histrionics of the child protagonist got old after a while.
  • (2/5)
    Big disappointment, after the brilliance of 'A Man Called Ove' I found it slow moving, to many characters and not a lot happening.
  • (5/5)
    I spent the last hundred pages bawling my eyes out, stupid book... It was perfect!

  • (5/5)
    I'm not entirely sure why I loved this book.Is it because I've be come a grandmother twice this year. Is it because I now have a granddaughter I love but am only getting to know living in the next room. Or is it just because I know that being different is both wonderful and painful? Or is it just because this book is both a wonderful story and and a wonderful telling. Maybe you'll figure it out for me when you read it. Because you NEED to read this one.
  • (5/5)
    This is definitely a book that I feel I need to re-read. At first it appears to be realistic fiction. Then it starts appearing as though it is going to be a fantasy world. I almost gave up at that point, but I'm glad I kept reading because the author does a great job and it ends up being an amazing realistic story. I feel like I need to re-read it to understand exactly how it all fits together. I would definitely recommend the book. It was worth the read.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book. I chose it as A Man Called Ove is one of my favourite books ever; this one was very good but not as outstanding as his first novel. Seven year old Elsa's grandmother is constantly getting into scrapes. From wandering around publicly with her housecoat on and nothing underneath, to throwing animal dung at police officers, she is not the best role model for Elsa, but definitely the most loveable. Elsa's grandmother immerses her in a make-believe world of fairy tales from which Elsa learns life lessons; she never learns enough lessons to handle the uncontrollable grief that assails her when her granny quite suddenly dies. As in A Man Called Ove, Backman makes grief one of the themes of the novel, and handles it masterfully; I have often wondered if he was a bereavement counsellor before he became a best-selling author. Backman also strikes up unlikely friendships between the characters, and animosities that end when people really listen to each other. It's a really good book and I recommend it warmly.
  • (4/5)
    Rather disappointed in this second book by Fredrik Backman. Though a very clever unfolding of the narrative that was quite inventive, the constant interspersing with the fairy tale background was tedious, convoluted and slowed up the plot enormously. Nearly gave up the book in the beginning. However, some very humorous parts kept me going as did the gradual exposition of the personal stories. In general this book was a disappointment compared to the simpler and more direct narrative of A man called Ove.
  • (4/5)
    A Man Called Ove knocked my socks off earlier this year, and I was curious to see what author Fredrik Backman would come up next. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell She's Sorry is a sweet and at times heart-wrenching story about a young girl and her grandmother. At age seven, Elsa has no friends and is often the object of bullying. Her world is her grandmother, an eccentric woman who will break into a zoo to make her granddaughter smile. Elsa often takes comfort in her grandmother's stories about the Land of Almost-Awake where anything can happen. Elsa lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend, and there is a new baby on the way. When Elsa's grandmother passes away, she is asked to deliver a letter--and after that, others follow. With each letter she is tasked to deliver, Elsa learns a little more about her grandmother and the people's whose lives were in some way touched by her grandmother.

    Written from the perspective of Elsa, this novel tells the story of a young innocent girl who is quite extraordinary in her own way. The cast of characters in the novel are quite colorful from the "monster" to the "wurse" to the drunk to the rather serious and critical neighbor, just to name a few. People are not always what they first appear, their backstories being a big part of who they are and who they become. I came to care for many of the characters just as I did for Elsa.

    Elsa's stories about The Land of Almost-Awake play a big part in the novel, the lands and lives of the people in that world paralleling those in Elsa's grandmother's real world. I was not quite as taken with this thread in the novel, preferring to stick to the "real life" characters and their struggles and revelations.

    My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry is a heartwarming story: funny and sentimental, and at times heartbreaking. It is a story about family and friendship, and one about redemption. While I was not as enamored with this novel as I was with A Man Called Ove, I did enjoy this one.

    Source: E-copy of novel provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    I have a difficult time with fantasy stories unless I know going in that is what I am reading. When I started reading this book I didn't get a proper start. When I picked it up again I was lost because we were taken on some crazy rabbit trail. The next time I had time to read I made sure I could really get involved with the story. At that point it all started to come together and I was able to be engaged in the characters and their individual stories. Our book club was mixed on their opinions about all the fairytale aspect but in the end I really enjoyed that part of the book. It made for a different and entertaining read. We were impressed with how Mr. Backman came up with all the different details he had twisted into this story. This was a good choice for a book club as it gave us many subjects to discuss.