sorry

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!

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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 https://thisismytruthnow.com, 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.

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365 Challenge: Day 21 – English

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English: containing roots from England

We’ve concluded another week, and on this, the third 365 Challenge Sunday, it’s time to select one of the countries from which my ancestors hail. I’m about 33% English, though Ancestry says my DNA is 81% English; however, those numbers include Irish, and Scottish, which will be next week’s “end-of-the-week” post, thus covering my four primary heritages. But I’m pretty certain at least half of me hails from Great Britain when I look at all the records and the family genes. I am pretty pale, remember! My favorite English last name in my family history: Pantridge. So formal and eloquent.

I’ve been fascinated with the royal families and ascendancy to the thrones of England for years. At one point, I could name most of the Kings and Queens in order, but I’ve forgotten some of those details in recent years. I would love to find out that I descend from one of them, but I highly doubt it’s true. Perhaps Henry VIII’s court jester is my real ancestor!

And in keeping with tradition, I’ve located the Top 10 English traits… but this time, it’s according to the Metro UK news. Let’s see how I fare:

1. Talking about the weather

  • I do often use that as an easy line of conversation, given that I tend to be shy and quiet when it comes to conversing with others. I am fascinated by whether it will be warm or cold, rainy or dry. I hate, loathe and despise hot weather. I prefer the temperature to be a nice 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A good topic for another day!
  • Score: 1 out of 1.

2. Great at queueing

  • Yes! I love lines. It’s the most fair way to ensure those of us who arrive early don’t get left out when a crowd forms. My favorite place for a proper queue is at the airport, but it does not always happen. Each American airline (don’t get me started on other countries’ approach to the ticket counter) calls group by group to queue for an orderly on-boarding to the aircraft. EXCEPT, most Americans (of which I am one) are RUDE (not me, I am orderly). They all just run to the line even though their group hasn’t been called, and then orderly people like me have to ask people to move, step over all their luggage, blah blah blah. Get the @#*& out of my way is what I really want to say. Wait your turn. If you’re group 5, don’t stand right at the beginning of the line. Don’t be an @$$^&*%.  OK, rant done.
  • Score: 2 out of 2.

3. Sarcasm

  • I had a post dedicated to that… remember? Although, someone wise said I am probably more clever, so…perhaps not. But in general, I think the English are sarcastic like I am – never in a cruel way.
  • Score: 3 out of 3.

4. Watching soaps

  • Yes, I must confess. I used to watch a lot of soap operas when I was a teenager, not including prime time soaps. Let’s see if I can remember them: Loving (became The City), Another World, Days of Our Lives, As The World Turns and Guiding Light. I had lots of VCR tapes going while I was in school. And I also had 3 magazine subscriptions to keep me well read when not watching them on TV. Such a LOSER!!!!!
  • Special Kudos to anyone who can name the fake soap opera in the clip below.
  • Score: 4 out of 4.

5. Getting drunk

  • I remember covering this during the Irish post. Are all British drunks? Or is it really just everyone in the world at this point? Yikes. But no, I’m not a drunk. I drink but know when to stop on most occasions.
  • Score 4 out 5.

6. A love of bargains

  • No, definitely not me. I am careful with money, but I am not a bargain shopper. I like to get a discount, and I will usually balance quality and cost when making a purchase, but I always wonder “what’s wrong with this?” when it seems like a bargain.
  • Score: 4 out of 6.

7. A love of curtain twitching

  • I am stumped. What the… is curtain twitching? Let’s Google it……… OK, I’m back. OMG, I would not have guessed this. Seriously? OK, well curtain twitching is “a nosy person who watches his or her neighbours, typically from a curtained window.” AND it uses the British spelling in the word “neighbours.” Laughing so hard, I can only think of one thing. AbFab! Too bad they weren’t actually curtain twitching the neighours in the clip below. But yeah, I’m a little nosy sometimes. Remember curious?
  • Score 5 out of 7.

8. Stiff upper lip

  • Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I tend to be pretty strong, but not always. I’m gonna say yes to this one.
  • Score: 6 out of 10.

9. Love of all television

  • I watch TV almost every day. Besides reading, it’s the other hobby I have that involves sitting down a lot. 🙂
  • Score: 7 out of 9.

10. Always saying sorry

  • I used to do this ALL the time. I’m much better about it now, but if I get too close to someone and almost bump them, the first words out of my mouth are “I’m sorry.” It would never occur to me to say “excuse me” or “watch where you’re going!” I always assume it was my fault.
  • Score: 8 out of 10.

And what does this tell me?  I am emblematic of 80% of these things… and that matches the 81% noted above. How am I always so in sync with my DNA? Quite a stumper…