I hope all of you are staying warm and safe, especially if you live in the eastern part of the United States.
I have been cozying up with What Was Your Name Downriver by Anthony Lowe (almost there!), Blowback by Brad Thor, and Wild Women of Michigan: A History of Spunk and Tenacity by Norma Lewis. Last week, I added this new title:
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman is about Elsa – a 7-year-old girl who is different. Her best and only friend is her brash and crazy grandmother. She tells Elsa stories in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When her grandmother dies and leaves behind letters apologizing to the people she’s wronged, it’s up to Elsa to deliver those notes. They lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, vicious dogs, and totally ordinary old people, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
I’ve seen book titles, in which I was so fascinated by them that I wanted to immediately read them. Kill the Farm Boy is an example of this. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is different. Not only is it an exciting title, but I also wanted to know the story behind it. With Kill the Farm Boy, I only wanted to read it simply because it was a cool title. My Grandmother invites readers to know what had happened with the grandmother and why she needed to apologize. No other fictional book has done that to me in recent memory.
This is my second Fredrik Backman novel, and I’ve noticed something about his books. They tend to be eccentric on the outside and dark on the inside. Both this title and A Man Called Ove contain stubborn old people as they deal with life in their own idiosyncratic ways. However, as the stories progress, their backstories are revealed piecemeal, and the dark elements are more prevalent. In the latter, Ove tries to kill himself on multiple occasions. In the former, Elsa gets physically bullied by her peers. She even receives notes telling her to kill herself. I know that Elsa is not an old lady, yet I wanted to point out how intense it can get. Even though I’m only a third in My Grandmother, I wouldn’t be surprised if the grandmother’s backstory is sad and dark.
Joan Walker – an English actress – narrates the audiobook. She has voiced other books from Backman like Britt-Marie Was Here and even A Man Called Ove (I’m going to take note of that for an audiobook versus special). For this novel, she does a good job giving vocal distinctions for the female characters. The grandmother sounds like what one would expect for a brash old lady holding a cigarette in her hands, and Elsa is quiet like a mouse. The second part reminded me of how Eric Idle voiced Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Also like Idle, Walker has some volume issues. She could be very quiet in one second, and then raise her voice in the next. I had to adjust the volume multiple times because of this. I’ll see how this performance unfolds, but I’m liking it so far.
We now come to the end of the seventh chapter of “What Am I Reading?”
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