Title: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises (AKA – My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry)
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Quote: … Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero…
Blurb: Granny has been telling fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember. In the beginning they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practise granny’s secret language, but lately the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on…’
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 dreams about to her grandmother’s stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
So when Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has upset, it marks the beginning of Elsa’s greatest adventure. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to other rooms in her apartment block full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones – but also to the truth about fairytales, kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Thoughts: MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES is written from the point of view of a 7 year old girl. A very advanced 7 year old girl, precocious even; many of my reading friends commented that the story does not read how a ‘normal’ 7 year old would speak – it didn’t bother me at all – I am suspecting Elsa is extra ordinary and may be either a genius or on the Autistic spectrum, possibly both! In the end it did not distract from the story rather it added another element.
Elsa’s parents are divorced and her mother is pregnant with her new husband, George. And her father is remarried and lives with his new wife and her children. Elsa is understandably concerned about her place within the two family units, wondering if the new children in her parents’ lives will push her out, she turns to her grandmother for the undivided attention that she so desperately needs. You see Elsa has problems – because she is advanced and openly reads Harry Potter books, Spider man comics and knows how to search Wikipedia, the other kids her age at school bully her terribly. Her parents don’t get it – thinks she is the one who is causing the trouble, only her grandmother understands and attempts to give Elsa the tools she needs to get through this emotionally turbulent time of her life. Her grandmother introduces her to the five magical kingdoms in the Land-of-Almost-Awake, each with a special logic and sphere for heroic action. The five kingdoms are so complex that I got lost once or twice trying to work out what was going on. There are storytellers from Miamas, the dream hunters from Mirevas, the sorrow-keepers from Miploris, the musicians from Mimovas, and the warriors of Mibatalos. These kingdoms were where Elsa could retreat in her mind as she tried to use them to explain the events that are happening around her.
Then, near the beginning of the book, her grandmother dies, and just before this happens she gives Elsa an envelope and asks her to deliver the letter to the person it is addressed to and that the person won’t accept it but Elsa has to insist and say “…granny sends her regards and says she’s sorry…” So begins the rest of the story, as Elsa starts out on her quest that has its basis in both the real world and the fantasy world of the five kingdoms. The first letter leads her to a Wurse (a giant of a dog that has to be hidden), and then the Monster (a man with cleanliness phobia and says little) and then with their help she moves on to many other characters that dwell in the five kingdoms – and in the apartment block that Elsa lives in.
“…Elsa decides they should begin by taking the bus, like normal knights on normal quests in more or less normal fairytales when there aren’t any horses or cloud animals available. But when all the other people at the bus stop starts eyeing The Monster and the wurse and nervously shuffling as far away from them as it’s possible to be without ending up at the next bus stop, she realises it’s not going to be quite so straightforward.
On boarding the bus it becomes immediately clear that wurses are not at all partial to travelling on public transport. After it had snuffled about and stepped on people’s toes and overturned bags with its tail and accidently dribbled a bit on a seat a little too close to The Monster for The Monster to feel entirely comfortable, Elsa decides to forget the whole thing, and then all three of them get off. Exactly one stop later…”
The quest becomes more dangerous and Elsa has to rely on the recipients of the letters to help her – and one will even lay down their life for her. Oh I cried buckets over that. The supporting cast of characters all live, as I mentioned before, in the same apartment block and are all connected to each other through granny. Like the 5 kingdoms their connections and their background stories are complex but by the end of the book all the dots are joined and the healing can begin for everyone.
Funny, moving, occasionally confusing, MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES made me laugh, and it made me cry, and I certainly felt inspired by people who lend a hand when help is required. It is not a children’s book – don’t think that because the main character is 7 that it is aimed at children. It is definitely a grown-ups book.
For more about the author – Click Here (sorry it is in Swedish so you’ll have to translate it)
B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.