The Light Is Dawning {Book Club}

I love sections like the one we read for today in Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. We read Chapters 9-17. In the middle of Chapter 9 when I read: “And Elsa should have understood this from the beginning. She really should have understood everything from the beginning.” I thought, Me too, Elsa!

I will admit that at first, I wasn’t sure about this book. As was mentioned by others last week the fairytale stuff isn’t normally my cup of tea. However, the clever story-telling and little humorous one-liners have hooked me.

Nods to Elsa being a little kid 

1. In this section, Elsa is beginning to learn more about her grandma and see her beyond simply Elsa’s advocate. Her grandma was a surgeon and traveled all over the world, often leaving Elsa’s mom alone.

2. She finds out her birthday was the date of the horrible Tsunami in Thailand.

3. Elsa gets so annoyed with The Monster!

4. She hopes that her quest will end in Elsa delivering an apology from her grandma to her mom. I loved this childlike hopeful longing. (And I’m with you, Elsa! I hope it does too.)

Nods to fairy tales

1. The quest! It’s so fairy tale and so reflective of the Hope we have. Even though she has died, God is still working redemption into Granny’s story.

2. We got more names. We now have Our Friend, The Monster, and The Drunk.

3. Words that are made up, yet real. Miamas, Wurses, the Sea Angel, and the regretters. I’m curious to learn more about the regretters since they “live in herds.” How true!

4. The hero (Elsa) and the side characters (the Monster and the wurse.) Anyone else thinking of Shrek and Donkey with the wurse and the Monster?)!

Nods to humor

1. When the wurse and Elsa were just inside the Monster’s apartment and he was described as “The Monster with extreme frustration.” It doesn’t sound so funny out of context, but that line cracked me up!

2. Elsa commented that “The Monster probably didn’t read as much quality literature as one might hope” in reference to Harry Potter.

3. “You don’t like talking much, do you?” Elsa said to The Monster. “No . . . but you do. All the time.” And that’s the first time Elsa believes he’s smiling. Or almost, anyway. “Touche.” Elsa grins.

4. Psychotherapists and pshcyoterropits. HA.

Nods to reality

1. Elsa is beginning to understand the complexities of her mom’s relationship with her grandma. “You were all her second chances.” Just this week a friend of mine returned to her hometown for the first time since her mom died. She said, “Oh the air in Kansas is so clean. This was a wonderful place to grow up. I just wish my mom liked me more. She was, however, a wonderful grandma.” And then I read this section of the book. Granny did so much for so many, but at the cost of her own child.

2. We keep getting glances into the tender side of people it would be easy to see as one-dimensional. In the scene when Elsa, the wurse, and The Monster delivered the second letter we see that The Drunk is also a functioning member of society with a job. She is more than a drunk.

3. I was touched that Granny wrote a letter to The Monster’s mom, apologizing for the fact that she never found her even though she kept looking in the camps.

I’m curious what else will be revealed as we continue into the third section.

Over to you. What stands out to you? What are you seeing differently as we go along?

See you in the comments,


Reading plan

August—My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman (May have a different title in Europe: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologies

  • August 7th: Chapters 1-8
  • August 14th: Chapters 9-17
  • August 21st: Chapters 18-26
  • August 28th: Chapters 27-the end

September—Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway (we’ve got something fun up our sleeves for you!)

October/November—Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Thank you to all who participated in the Book Club survey. Ninety-eight of you answered the questions and helped us (you included) to have a sense of who is here and why Book Club is a special place. Sarah compiled all of the data and put together a summary you will enjoy looking through. Read through the survey here. 

Photo by Phil Hearing on Unsplash


  1. Rachel Kahindi August 14, 2018

    I haven’t quite finished this section yet, but I’m seeing more and more that the fairy tales seem to have been Granny’s way of explaining the world in parables. I’m curious now to see the metaphors come out.

    Granny was a cross-cultural worker like us! I really like that, but hate that she had to choose between being there for her daughter and saving the world.

  2. Michelle Kiprop August 16, 2018

    Again, I just love this book so much. As a cross-cultural worker, I liked the explanation “Elsa’s granny lived in another rhythm from other people. She operated in a different way.” Sometimes I can really relate to that statement. I was also touched by Elsa’s fears of the world crumbling, as well as Granny’s response. “Elsa had been very afraid that night, and she had asked Granny what they would do if one day their world crumbled around them. And Granny had squeezed her forefingers hard and replied, ‘Then we do what everyone does, we do everything we can.’ Elsa had crept into her lap and asked: ‘But what can we do?’ And Granny had kissed her hair and held her hard, hard, hard and whispered: ‘We pick up as many children as we can carry, and we run as fast as we can.'” Elsa’s response about being good at running made me think about how we can take challenging or painful situations in life, and redeem them by helping others. Elsa was good at running from the bullies, but that could also make her good at running to rescue others.

    In all of the books I’ve read by Backman so far, I’ve been challenged to stop looking at challenging people with just a cursory glance. To push myself a bit and try to learn their stories. Basically to work harder to see difficult people through the eyes of Jesus. I loved this quote as well “Elsa understands that everyone is scared of them, and that it will take a long time to make them all understand that The Monster and the wurse –like the drunk– are not what they seem.” May we all be willing to take the time and do the work to see past the surface of the drunks and monsters in our lives.

  3. Suzanne August 16, 2018

    Last week, I got frustrated with the fairytales and just wanted to get back to the ‘real’ story. This week, I am following them more. The relationship Elsa is developing with these unlikely characters is delightful, though the ‘child protection’ red flags are flapping vigorously in my mind. Thankfully, the author has bigger and better themes to develop. I wonder what is going on with Halfy with all these extra appointments 🙁

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