I am satisfied.
That’s how I felt when I finished My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. Now that I’m at the end and see how complex the pieces of this book are, I can see why it had a slow start. (Did you love the nod in Chapter 33 to Marcel being mentioned in Chapter 2? So clever!)
So many “aha” moments in this section
Kent and Alf are brothers!
Alf loved Britt Marie but wasn’t careful with his love and she married Kent (who I’m not sure ever deeply loved her).
How the death of a child (Britt Marie’s sister) can be felt for years and years. (I did feel so sorry for Britt Marie when her mum was mad at Granny for “saving the wrong child.” I think I felt my heart actually constrict in my chest when I read that line!)
The Policewoman—of course—knew Granny and was best friends with Elsa’s mum.
And the reason Granny sent Elsa on the treasure hunt in the first place. I loved that Granny wanted Elsa to have a place she would always be loved as she grew up and was an adult. And that the treasure hunt didn’t end in Elsa delivering an “I’m sorry” letter to her mom. I was so glad Granny didn’t “use” Elsa to play that role.
The Quotation from Doctor Glas
First of all, I checked (on Wikipedia for Elsa’s sake), and Doctor Glas is a Swedish novel. It sounds quite depressing (has anyone read it?). But this quote seems to summarize so much of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry,
“‘We want to be loved,'” quotes Britt Marie. “‘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.”
Isn’t that the truth? The longing we all have for contact, even if it is unhealthy. In part that is why we have a variety of ways to connect at Velvet Ashes!
So many of the people in this book started at the “despised” or “feared” end and moved their way towards the “loved” end.
- The Monster —> Wolfheart
- The Drunk —> The woman in a black skirt —> The woman in jeans
- Sam —> The Shadow —> Sam
- Britt Marie as she was despised by her mom and bitten by a dog, then grew up to marry Kent and she tried so hard with his kids, then loved Elsa’s mom, and finally Elsa . . . only to have Granny return and take the place of the grandmother
- Okay, I realize I could go character by character and list them all.
I was looking at a list of book discussion questions and one was, “Discuss the role that books, especially the Harry Poter novels, play in Elsa’s life. Why do you think Elsa relates to the Harry Potter books more than other novels? When you were growing up, were there books you particularly loved? Which ones and why?”
I love how Elsa’s dad was listening to the Harry Potter books so he could connect with her. I haven’t read the Harry Potter books (so those of you who have, please chime in), but I’m guessing she was so taken with them because Harry is an orphan (and Elsa relates because of her parent’s divorce), he is different and finds a way to use his “superpowers” to find his place in the world. It seems that’s what Elsa is trying to do.
I am very glad we read this book and let’s plan on reading Britt-Marie Was Here next August. As the book was ending, and Elsa hadn’t gone back to school, I wondered if we were going to be left wondering about the bullying. I’m thankful that Elsa has a friend and that the bullying is over!
What did you think of the ending of My Grandmother? I look forward to discussing this in the comments with you. I’m on vacation, so may be a bit slow in responding, but I will!
P.S.In September we are going to be reading Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway. We also have some fun features and giveaways planned so make sure you join us for Book Club each week! Here’s the reading plan for the month:
October/November—Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren