Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman is my favorite World’s Best Book Club selection so far.  Granny is a retired, wildly eccentric surgeon.  Elsa is her precocious granddaughter.  They bond over Harry Potter-style fairy tales invented by Granny to guide Elsa through life:

A queen only stays in power for as long as her subjects are afraid of conflict.

You should choose your battles if you can, but it the battle chooses you then kick the sod in his fuse box!

If you don’t like people, they can’t hurt you.

Don’t kick the shit, it’ll go all over the place!

Sometimes the safest place is when you flee to what seems the most dangerous. . .When it comes to terror, reality’s got nothing on the power of the imagination.

Unexpected belly laughs like “Granny’s been throwing turds at a policeman” season the story of Granny’s passionate life.  She’s a blend of surgeon who brilliantly and enthusiastically plunged into global chaos and rebellious woman who often behaved very inappropriately.  At the end of her life, Granny owes a lot of apologies.  The apologies become her legacy of grace, love, compassion, and courage.

The Dance by Henri Matisse

Spoiler alert:  Granny created a strong and magical protection circle for survivors of a myriad of abuses and life’s inevitable disappointments.  Granny’s wisdom for children of all ages:

People who have never been hunted always seem to think there’s a reason for it.  “They wouldn’t do it without a cause, would they?  You must have done something to provoke them.”  As if that’s how oppression works.

But it’s pointless trying to explain to these people, as fruitless as clarifying to a guy carrying around a rabbit’s foot ~ because of its supposed good luck ~ that if rabbits’ feet really were lucky, they’d still be attached to the rabbits.

Don’t fight with monsters, for you can become one.  If you look into the abyss for long enough, the abyss looks into you.

. . .that was Nietzsche.  He was a German philosopher.  It’s. . .ah, I’m probably misquoting him.  But I think it could mean that if you hate the one who hates you, you could risk becoming like the one you hate.

People have to tell their stories, Elsa.  Or they suffocate.


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