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Fredrik Backman’s novel My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (Washington Square Press, 2016) tells the story of a remarkable relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter. Elsa is seven years old. Her grandmother, who is her best friend in the whole world, is 77. Neither of them is good at being her age: Elsa is too grown up, and Granny shoots a paintball gun at people from her balcony. When Granny dies unexpectedly, she leaves Elsa a letter that sends her on a quest.
As Elsa delivers apologies to people on behalf of Granny, she learns more about Granny’s life and the people who live in her apartment building. The inspiration behind the fairy tales Granny used to tell her gradually becomes clear. The novel, from Elsa’s perspective, leads the reader on a journey of discovery.
Throughout the story, pieces and fragments of Granny’s past are revealed until a picture of her life—and the lives of her friends—begins to form. As Elsa completes her quest, she faces her fears and finds her place in the world. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is at times both comical and heartbreaking; read it with tissues on hand.