Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

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I am usually good at knowing my ability to read a book in a genre other than ones I normally read. I’m not much of a fantasy or science-fiction guy. I loved Harry Potter, The Time Machine, Lord of the Rings, and Thursday Next, but when there’s a lot of room for wiggle in the structure, I’m less inclined to like it. It could be an amazing book, but it just doesn’t work for me as I question the boundaries and the influx of species I don’t understand. I never expected to find that in a Fredrik Backman novel… I read four of his others and just went on a splurge to order copies of everything he’d written. When I perused the description for My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, I went “uh oh” but continued on. About ten percent in, I knew I was going to struggle.

It’s not a fantasy book, but at least 50% of the story is based on metaphors and allegories where Backman tells us about the relationships of a kooky cast of characters who share residence in a large building full of apartments. Elsa is the 7-turning-8-year-old main character who’s been given a series of notes from her recently deceased and supposedly crazy grandmother. Through Elsa’s eyes, and her grandmother’s imagination, we learn some history and some current happenings that tie everything together. Her grandmother created a fantasy world of people and places to help teach Elsa a different way of looking at the world both near and afar.

In many aspects, the story is hilarious and adorable. When it sticks to real-life situations, I laugh and cry. When it tries to show the theory of how people relate to one another thru made-up places and monsters, I’m lost. It’s a bit of an immediate thing…. I hear/see the words about another creature or planet, and something sinks inside me. In movies, I love it. But in books, I usually do not. I also struggled at times because of the simplicity in some of the writing. While Elsa’s vocabulary is quite skillful, and her ways of dealing with people are more mature than most adults I know, the short and terse structure at times overwhelmed the plot for me.

So… my lesson is to be careful when going on a binge to read all the works from an author you love. While this hasn’t caused me to drop my opinion of Backman, it made me realize a story needs to work on all levels and elements to truly move or impact me. In this one, the fantasy took me out of the normal love I have for Backman’s style and character development to the point I found myself skimming way too often. I committed to reading it, and I did, but I probably only digested about 2/3 of the content because it just wasn’t keeping my attention.

I’m still gonna read more of his work and recommend him to others. Just not this book unless the reader is unlike me and loves the fantasy components. Given the good parts were a 5 for me, and the bad parts were a 1 for me, I settled on allotting 3 stars which in my world is still a good book. I recognize the skill and talent enough to say it’s a solid read with a select audience. Kudos to anyone who loved it, I wish I could be more open-minded in some of the genres I don’t often find interesting. Maybe one day!


About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.


19 thoughts on “Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

    Lisa@LismorePaper said:
    September 24, 2018 at 7:25 PM

    Based on this, I will read. I am intrigued by the title. Very good review.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 24, 2018 at 9:57 PM

      If you are cool with the fantasy part, it’s got potential! Enjoy. Thank you.


    Martie said:
    September 24, 2018 at 7:34 PM

    A thoughtful and honest review.

    Liked by 1 person

    roseelaineblog said:
    September 25, 2018 at 3:46 AM

    This actually sounds interesting to me!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 25, 2018 at 7:32 AM

      Quirky, but emotional… might be a good fit if you’re up for the fairy tale / allegorical parts.

      Liked by 1 person

    Bella G. Bear said:
    September 25, 2018 at 10:03 AM

    It sounds interesting but definetly also as a book that will ne a big hit or miss. With fantasy I always find the writing style really has to work for you to understand the metaphors

    Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    September 25, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    Hmmm…. I’d seen this one before and marked it as a TBR on Goodreads. I guess will spend on my mood if I decide to pick it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    Beware Of The Reader said:
    September 26, 2018 at 12:39 PM

    Well Jay many had the same reaction you had with this one even if they are fans of Fredrik Backman. Now I am warned for the day I’ll read it because I am a fan 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    carhicks said:
    September 26, 2018 at 1:43 PM

    This was the first Backman book I read, so was not anticipating anything when I started it. I loved the characters so much, that the “weirdness” didn’t bother me.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      September 26, 2018 at 8:55 PM

      He’s amazing at characters. I would love to meet his friends and family to see if he’s modeled anyone after them!

      Liked by 1 person

        carhicks said:
        September 27, 2018 at 12:59 PM

        That would be quite interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

    rae longest said:
    October 8, 2018 at 3:32 PM

    I tried this book on for size, but couldn’t get further than the third chapter; it just didn’t grab me.

    Liked by 1 person

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