My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel

4.2 28
by Fredrik Backman

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A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her


A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

Editorial Reviews

“Every bit as churlish but lovable as Backman’s cantankerous protagonist in his debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), precocious Elsa will easily work her way into the hearts of readers who like characters with spunk to spare. A delectable homage to the power of stories to comfort and heal, Backman’s tender tale of the touching relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a tribute to the everlasting bonds of deep family ties.
Marilyn Dahl
“I can't remember the last time that I read a book where I alternately cried and laughed, and sometimes both at the same time.”
Booklist (starred)
“Every bit as churlish but lovable as Backman’s cantankerous protagonist in his debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), precocious Elsa will easily work her way into the hearts of readers who like characters with spunk to spare. A delectable homage to the power of stories to comfort and heal, Backman’s tender tale of the touching relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a tribute to the everlasting bonds of deep family ties.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Fredrik Backman has a knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful. Backman’s smooth storytelling infuses his characters with charm and wit… a delightful story.”
Best Books of 2015 Business Insider
"Bring tissues when you start My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, but bring your funnybone, too. It’s that kind of book – one that, if you miss it, you’ll never forgive yourself."
Praise for A MAN CALLED OVE:

“A charming debut…You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You’ll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything’s cuter.”
"An inspiring affirmation of love for life and acceptance of people for their essence and individual quirks. A Man Called Ove is a perfect selection for book clubs. It's well written and replete with universal concerns. It lacks violence and profanity, is life-affirming and relationship-driven. The book is bittersweet, tender, often wickedly humorous and almost certain to elicit tears. I contentedly wept my way through a box of tissues when I first read the novel and again when I savored it for a second time.”
Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods."
Starred Review Booklist
"Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."
Lois Leveen
"There are characters who amuse us, and stories that touch us. But this character and his story do even more: A Man Called Ove makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives. A Man Called Ove seems deceptively simple at the start, yet Frederik Backman packs a lifetime's worth of hilarity and heartbreak into this novel. Even the most crusty curmudgeon will love Ove!"
Cayacosta Reviews
“One of the most moving novels I have read this year. I defy anyone to read this book and look at a quiet withdrawn person the same way ever again.”

Product Details

Washington Square Press
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5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Fredrik Backman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderfully astute look at the charms, foibles, mistakes, and victories that make human beings what we are. It has everything a fairy tale should: heroes, dragons, brave knights, and even a princess. Thematically, it has shades of the movie Big Fish. And to the person who complained that this book had "too much imagination," I can only say, seriously? Is that a thing? Maybe you ought to be reading IRS procedural manuals instead. One can assume you'll find a sufficient dearth of imagination there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The inside of a 7 yr old's mind and that of her dying grandmother may appear to be diametrically opposed, but nothing could be further from the truth in this beautiful novel about love and hate and being different. I enjoyed every sentence. This is a novel you will not forget, EVER. Told from a reality perspective intertwined with Fairy Tale characters, the entire book was a mix of exactly what you would expect from a 7 yr old girl who is dealing daily with the ugliness of life superimposed by a sheen of fantasy, in hopes that all the fears of childhood can somehow be made more palatable when explained in the guise of an imaginary place with imaginary creatures. Don't open this novel expecting anything common or usual. Keep your imagination free from expectation and, I promise, you will not want the story to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of the pieces fell I to place. I cried through the last few chapters. The heartbreak and strength of each character is beautiful. I missed the characters after I was done reading.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
Last year, I discovered the Best Translated Book Award, and since then, I have been reading a lot of fiction in translation. I'm so thankful that this path led me to Fredrik Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, originally written in Swedish but scheduled for release in English in the United States next week. I loved this book! On the surface, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is about "almost-eight-year-old" Elsa's quest to deliver a series of apologetic letters to friends of her recently deceased grandmother. Her journey is by turns hilarious and terrifying, and the book is well worth reading for this plot alone. However, Backman uses his story to explore deeper and more rewarding themes: whether a woman can truly balance a demanding career with motherhood without sacrificing one to the other; the special, and often magical, relationship between a grandmother and her grandchild; the perils and rewards of being "different." Both Elsa and Granny are complex and delightful characters; here is Elsa describing herself and Granny: "Other adults describe her as 'very grown-up for her age.' Elsa knows this is just another way of saying 'massively annoying for her age,' because they only tend to say this when she corrects them for mispronouncing 'déjà vu' or not being able to tell the difference between 'me' and 'I' at the end of a sentence. . . . "You can tell she’s old because her face looks like newspaper stuffed into wet shoes, but no one ever accuses Granny of being grown-up for her age. 'Perky,' people sometimes say to Elsa’s mum, looking either fairly worried or fairly angry as Mum sighs and asks how much she owes for the damages." While my maternal grandmother was not quite as eccentric as Granny (having never stood naked on her balcony shooting at Jehovah's Witnesses with a paintball gun, for example), she too left a career she loved (in her case, as a professional dancer) to take care of me while my newly-divorced mother worked two jobs to support us. I still recall vividly the day she stopped at the drycleaner after picking me up from school and got so engaged in talking with an acquaintance that her Lincoln Continental (with me inside) rolled backward into a telephone pole before she realized she had forgotten to put it in park. Elsa and Granny would have understood perfectly as they watched us laughing hysterically once she caught up with the car. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is that rare book which transports you back to the wonders of childhood, where even the irritating middle-aged neighbor may turn out to be a princess in disguise, while simultaneously urging you to reassess those memories with the wisdom of age. There is something here for every reader. I received a free copy of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rose_Colored_Glasses More than 1 year ago
The characters are loveable especially our heroine "almost eight years old" Else. The writing is smooth and fluid. I'm half-way through and don't want it to end. I've loved it since page one. If you're willing to open you eyes and heart you'll see the beauty in the stories. It reminds us to not judge; there is more to a person than meets the eye and sometimes there is sanity and even kindness in ciaos. It IS worth the read.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This novel honors the special relationship between grannys and their grandchildren. What a joy to read . . . And remember my own wonderful grandmother!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Great characters and never boring. Wish I could read it again for the first time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagination explosion! Usually when I experience this kind of literature, it takes place in schools of witchcraft or in Middle Earth. But the setting is in real time Sweden, and I just loved the language. I loved the writing. I loved the very creative way this grandmother protected her granddaughter. I loved how the story was seen through the granddaughter's eyes. I loved the imperfections of the characters as the story wouldn't function without them. And real life occurs in the imperfect. Well done!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this novel to unravel like it did. I was anticipating a novel based on a relationship with a granddaughter and her granny but immediately upon reading the first couple pages, I knew I was being thrown into something much more. Talks of superpowers, secret kingdoms and the Land-of-Almost-Awake, I knew that the line between realism and fantasy were going to be breeched. Granny created this fantasy world of Land-of-Almost-Awake but as the novel deepens this line between fantasy and reality begins to vanish. I was swept away in the many stories that granny had stored in her head as she helps Elsa deal with life in the world of Land-of-Almost-Awake as they visit there often. These stories were fascinating and captivating and I knew how Elsa felt as she lost herself in the countless worlds that granny created for her. Eight-year old Elsa relies upon this fantasy world to escape reality which can be overwhelming at times and she depends upon her granny, her only friend, to help her navigate through life. This fantasy world is complex, it’s a highly-structured world with kingdoms, rulers, monsters and creatures whose detailed stories branch off and I longed to know more. You could get lost in this imaginary world, if you let your mind slip away. Back in the real world, Elisa lives in an apartment complex; she was blessed to live under the same roof as granny and many other unique residents. These residents were all unique characters which add spark to the novel. Their flair and personality bouncing off the walls, affecting all they interact with. For just one minute, I wanted to be in granny’s flat with Elsa, lying on her bed staring at her ceiling, just taking it all in. I wanted to see exactly what she was seeing, for it had to be spectacular. I truly loved granny. Everyone should have someone like her in their lives. She added excitement, spontaneity, humor and was truly more than a granny to Elsa. She was Elsa’s everything. I was saddened when I read that Elsa’s granny died and left her side. I feared for Elsa and her future. For suddenly, her real and her fantasy world were abruptly stopped. I seriously was not ready for what emerged from the rest of this novel, for it was as if the book exploded and stories upon stories sprang forth. I feel as if my eyes and heart were awaken as she is sent forth on her final mission from granny. It was such a wonderful and heart-felt novel and totally unexpected. The stories of granny’s fantasy world started to blend into reality and the excitement inside me was hard to contain. The ending….. Oh, the ending… my tissues, the presentation…oh, granny. “It was always you, dear Elsa.” It was so wonderful, “Damn, how I luv you.”
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
The main character in this story is seven year old Elsa, a girl without friends, who is teased and bullied at school. Granny, loves Elsa deeply and even though everyone thinks she is crazy, she will do whatever it takes to make Elsa feel better and take risks. As this story unfolds and you learn more about Granny, it is easy to see why she does what she does, she is a humanitarian who has saved numerous people all the while using her marvelous imagination. Granny shares her fairytale world of The Land-of-Almost-Awake with this lonely little girl to help her to cope with her world. The cast of characters living in the apartment complex or house, come alive in the fairytales. When Granny dies of cancer, she leaves letters for Elsa to deliver. This is where the title comes from. All the letter apologize to the receiver. Elsa participates in a type of scavenger hunt trying to figure out where the next letter is she needs to deliver and in her journey discovers more about the people living in the house as well as her own family. Elsa seems to be a lot older than 7 going on 8, but with all the problems and insecurities she has you can see that little girl in her. This book is a cross between a fairytale, coming of age type story with Wurses, knights, princesses, princes and more. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to parents and grandparents to show them how to deal with children and help everyone understand that it it wonderful and okay to "Be Different" Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“…storytelling is the noblest profession of all. The currency there is imagination; instead of buying something with coins you buy it with a good story. Libraries aren’t known as libraries but as ‘banks’ and every fairy tale is worth a fortune” My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is the second novel by Swedish blogger, columnist and author, Fredrik Backman. As with his previous bestseller, this book is flawlessly translated by Henning Koch. Every seven-year-old girl needs a superhero of their own, and Elsa (almost eight) has one: her grandmother. Unfortunately, Granny has cancer and dies just a few days before Christmas and Elsa’s eighth birthday, leaving her rudderless. But before she left, Granny charged Elsa with a mission: a treasure hunt of sorts, involving letters of apology to be delivered to some of the many people Granny has offended over the years. Elsa may feel overwhelmed by her task, but Granny made her a knight in the Land-of-Almost-Awake, so she tries to be brave and fearless. And after a while, Elsa realises that Granny has equipped her with what she needs to face the future without her. Backman has peopled his novel with a wonderful cast of characters, often quirky yet familiar and appealing for all their faults and imperfections. The banter between the characters is enjoyable and often laugh-out-loud funny. Backman’s plot is so cleverly devised that the reader can see events from the perspective of a seven (nearly eight) year old who believes in the fantasy world her granny has created for her, and from the point of view of the adults around her. And that fantasy world, the Land-of-Almost-Awake, is a wonderful thing in itself, with its parallels in the lives, loves and losses of the real-world characters. Backman given his characters many words of wisdom and insightful observations: “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 was how oppression works” and “…sometimes the safest place is when you flee to what seems the most dangerous” and “When it comes to terror, reality’s got nothing on the power of imagination” are examples. He also gives Elsa some excellent retorts to adult statements: for ‘It’s complicated.’ Elsa has ‘Yes, until someone explains it to you!’ and for ‘It’s hard to help those who don’t want to help themselves’ she cleverly objects ‘Someone who wants to help himself is possibly not the one who’s most in need of other people’s help’. Backman’s second novel is another winner, and readers will be eager to know what he can come up with next. Funny, sad and truly heartwarming.
Rachael Hobson 2 days ago
I was sent this book for an honest review as part of a Booktube tour. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much of out of it. I figured this would be a 3 star read. Man, was I wrong! The overall story is about a 7 year old girl and her grandmother. The child, Elsa, has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother. Together, they created an imaginary world where Elsa could escape from her troubles. Unfortunately, the grandmother has cancer and on the night she passes, she gives Elsa a mission. There is a treasure hunt full of letters and the letters are apologies to the people that the grandmother had wronged. For a sad premise, the story was incredibly endearing! The story errs on the complicated side, but it suits the characters. These characters were the walking embodiment of complicated. The story was an accurate representation of humanity. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to hug this book and not let it go! I especially loved the overall message of the story. How it was ok to be different. It’s a message that even adults need to be reminded of once in a while. Outrageously funny and heartbreaking, this is a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their lifetime. 5/5 Stars on Goodreads
The-YA-Wizard 10 days ago
*I was sent this book in exchange for review. All opinions are my own.* OHMYGOD this book is amazing! I love how it interweaves (similarly to Let It Snow), and I ended up making a chart to explain it because it gets so complicated. This could be a deterrent for some people, but it was fun for me to guess how the characters were connected. This book also made me cry my eyes out. I was up until 5 AM reading and crying simultaneously. It was amazing, but my eyes were so puffy the next day All in all, it's a good book, and everyone should read it. My video review:
LyricalVixen91 12 days ago
This book was pretty amazing. I'm giving this a 3.5 stars meaning I liked it. I would have given it a 4 star rating, but this was definitely outside of the box for me as far as contemporary reads go (in a good way). I enjoyed the writing style, the characters, the humor and the "almost" fantasy feel to it. This was like no other book I've read before. I definitely recommend this book for a light, whimsical yet thought provoking read. The book is written in the perspective of 7 year old Elsa before and after the death of her grandmother. I've read MG books in my days, but nothing ever from the perspective of a child. Elsa and her grandmother are like two peas in a pod. Always with one another, always arguing, always loving and always having fun. Elsa grew up on fairy-tales that her grandmother would tell her about. When her grandmother dies, she is sent on a mission (by her grandmother) to deliver letters to those that her grandmother has wronged. Elsa begins a mission of wonder. Elsa is a very different 7 year old. She's very intellectual, questions everything, never holds back and speaks her mind. Elsa was an amazing character from start to finish. She made me laugh and cry. Not once did I find myself thinking that I disliked her. Elsa was very strong and smarter than half the adults in her apartment building. She was lovable and annoying all at once. There was never a dull moment with her. Elsa's grandmother was a whirlwind of sarcasm and crazy. She was not your average grandma. She always knew how to have fun and spoke whatever and however she felt. She didn't care for the age, gender or profession of the person. As the story progressed on I did find myself disliking her for things in her past, but as this book continued to unravel I realized how amazing Elsa's grandmother was. Just amazing. The fairy tales in the story start off sounding like any fairy-tale, but then some parts get confusing. It wasn't until the last 10 chapters or so that everything started to make sense about these "fairy tales" that I really began to appreciate this book a lot more. The humor and "fantasy" aspects made this book fun, but when Elsa (being only 7 years old) began to really dive deep and understand each fairy tale and how real they were to her life it just blew my mind. Each character was amazing. From Alf to Britt-Marie to Maud to Wolfheart, Sam, the wurse and everyone in the building. I love how each character had their own personality and issue, but how well they all meshed together, grew up together and really lived like a family. The writing within this was just impeccable. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and definitely would recommend this to anyone. It is a bit slow paced, but with every few pages you'll be cramping from laughter.
Anonymous 19 days ago
This book is honestly something else. I was expecting some lighthearted quick read about a little girl going on a mission after the death of her grandmother but I was given something so different and even better than I could have expected. The thing I love about this book is the way you learn in it. Elsa is only 8 years old, so while she is a very smart 8 year old, she doesn’t know a lot of things. So this book is a journey. Eventually it all comes completely full circle and I think the way it was done was so so so well handled. I loved the inclusion of the fairytale land in this story. While I think the story itself packs a really intense emotional punch and covers so many important topics, ranging from the relationship between a parent and a child, but also the bond that a grandparent has with a grandchild, there was really no need to add the fairytale element. This story could have been told without it and I am SO glad it wasn’t. I just adored the fairytale element and the way that the story incorporated it into the “real world.” It gave a sense of magical realism to this story that I think was the nice comedic relief that the story needed. However, while I loved the plot the characters really are what made this book for me. I loved them all (all except 2 actually but I won’t get into them, they’re obvious when you read it). They were all so complex and distinct and done so in a way that only a child could have made distinct. The book is written by an adult, but he writes the mind of children so well. I felt like I was seeing the world and learning about the world honestly through a children’s eye. She sees people and described people in a way that I felt on a child could have. In that regards this book was really really well done. The adults were really realistic and flawed in a way that I found beautiful, being criticized the way only a child could criticize. Each adult was distinct with their own personality and every character is important in this story, it leaves no one behind. It’s like a really confusing family drama because of the setting of this story.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
I dont read these kind of books but i am glad i did . It kept my atte tion and will read the other of two by this author.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Loverofallbooks 5 months ago
This book is a well written wonderful gem. At 7 years old Elsa is wise beyond her years but that happens when kids are raised by and around adults. It has dysfunction, love, and awareness mixed with fantasy. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy how well it is written as well as the wonderful story.
Anonymous 7 months ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved A Man Called Ove - truly one of my favorite books of all time. I and was very excited for the author's next book. What a disappointment. I'm about 60 pages in and am giving up.
Jerzy_Walker More than 1 year ago
Fredrik Backman must have lost his father at an early age because this book, and his (far superior) debut novel, A Man Called Ove, both deal with lonely, isolated people who have lost the one person in their lives who can help them make sense of the world. In this case, it is an abnormally aware and prescient 7 year old named Elsa. She's freakishly self-aware for a 7 year old and the book would have been much stronger if Backman had just made her 13. Backman is a gifted writer and it's been fun to "discover" him, but this book is tedious and he would do well to find a strong editor. STAT! Here, Elsa has lost her almost-mythical grandmother who has been her best friend and who created the Land of Almost Awake as a way of helping Elsa not be afraid of the dark. What Elsa discovers in the course of the book is that Granny has populated the world from the real world neighbors who live in the small apartment that Granny owns and what Backman does best is create the A-Ha moment when you realize how all these people are connected and how they are manifested in the Land of Almost Awake. He does the same in A Man Called Ove, and that moment was one of the most powerful moments I've ever read. Backman's got a nice turn of phrase but the problem is he'll repeat the same sentence, which was powerful once, 20 times in the book, and that's just tedious. Eventually I just skipped his descriptions of the Land of Almost Awake. So, he's suffering from sophomore slump. But given that he's got a third book in three years already on the shelf, I don't know if he's going to take the time to become a better writer. And that would be sad.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Huh. Interesting. I think summer is the perfect time to rp. I'm barely busy, and always super bored. Roleplaying's kind of my release from reality, and keeping me from going insane from boredom.