Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: cancer, grief, death.
Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
I snagged a copy of this book from my local Goodwill, and was super excited to read it because of how much I adored my Backman read. Then I remembered how little time I have to read a physical copy, and borrowed the audiobook from Libby instead. *We can all facepalm for that, haha, it’s okay. Story of my life.*
Elsa is seven- almost eight- and her grandmother is her very best friend. Her granny tells her stories about Miamas and The Land of Almost Awake, in which nobody is normal or what they seem. When Elsa isn’t lured into the stories, being a knight and all, she is spending time with her grandmother. Together, they get into loads of trouble, usually to Elsa’s mother’s dismay.
“So I thought instead you could remember it as the day your Granny broke into a zoo—” “And escaped from a hospital,” Elsa says with a grin. “And escaped from a hospital,” says Granny with a grin. “And threw turds at the police.” “Actually, it was soil! Or mainly soil, anyway.” “Changing memories is a good superpower, I suppose.” Granny shrugs. “If you can’t get rid of the bad, you have to top it up with more goody stuff.”
Then, Elsa overhears her granny discussing her will with her lawyer, and finds out that Granny has been diagnosed with cancer. Though she knows what cancer is thanks to Wikipedia, she doesn’t quite know how to accept the day her Granny passes away. But then, Elsa is given a secret task – passing along apology letters from Granny. As Elsa sets out on her journey to understand why her grandmother asked this of her, she slowly accumulates a few friends- The Monster and The Worse, a pair who come to her aid more than once. Along the way, she learns about her grandmother’s past and the truth behind Miamas and it’s residents.
Overall, I enjoyed the tale and thought the plot line was adorable, as each character in Elsa’s grandmother’s fairy tales came alive in real life. I also loved the quick witted humor of Backman- just as with A Man Called Ove, there would be serious moments punctuated with a perfectly timed punchline that would make me laugh. Though the plot centers around death and righting wrongs of the past, the point of view from a young main character keeps it lighthearted and innocent. Quick paced, as long as you don’t get bogged down in the fantasy vs reality aspect (which I’ll admit occasionally tripped me up), My Grandmother… is a sweet tale for readers of all ages.
Read it? Yes, especially if you’ve loved other Backman characters & novels. However, take your time with it because the fantasy vs reality aspects get confusing, being that the POV is from a child with a vivid imagination.
Recommend it? Yes, for the same reason as why you should read it!
Buy it? I think if you already collect Backman books, then buy. If it’s your first Backman, I’d borrow a copy.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredik Backman
- Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy