Books by Fredrik Backman – Reviews

My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry

“Because all seven-year-olds deserve superheroes.”

“There’s something special about a grandmother’s house.  You never forget how it smells.”

I’ve been wanting to read My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry after enjoying A Man Called Ove several years ago. Since I signed up for an audiobook trial with Scribd I decided to go with authors I’m familiar with and get a few books finished from my never ending TBR pile (this post is not affiliated with or sponsored by Scribd).

Elsa adores her Grandmother. Her Granny is her very own superhero; she helps Elsa navigate the complexity of life as a seven year-old. Granny often says the wrong things and does the wrong things in the span of a few seconds but Elsa loves her all the same because Granny is Elsa’s best friend. Elsa’s life is full of change which causes angst. Her parents are divorced, she has a stepdad, her mum’s pregnant with her half brother, Halfie, her dad seems happy with his new life apart from her although he’s still very much involved in hers. And did we mention Elsa gets bullied at school. Of course Elsa’s Granny swoops in to save the day for her time and time again.

But when Elsa’s granny dies, she’s coping with loneliness. Elsa is faced with the hardest challenge of all, understanding her grief and loneliness while learning to bridge the gaps of sorrys her grandmother has left behind.  Elsa will also have to figure out how much of what her grandmother has told her is real or just make believe, or is it both? Leave it to Granny to teach Elsa more about herself than she knew before as she delivers the sorrys (and why Granny selected Elsa to be her messenger).

A quick read, the first of my Backman Binge.  The fairy tale element sort of slowed things down for me, it could have been less, but I loved the relationship between grandmother and granddaughter.  My grandmother is still my superhero too. No one can hold a candle to your grandmother. She’s always amazing in a way no one else can be.

Who’s the person in your life that’s your superhero?

Britt-Marie Was Here

“She was good at this, and people want to do the things they’re good at. People want someone to know they are there.”

Britt-Marie is a character who made a few appearances in Backman’s My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry. Many people think Britt-Marie is uptight, has no social skills and in short, is an old ‘nag-bag.’ But in typical Backman style, there’s more to this woman named Britt-Marie and how happy I was to come to know her in this novel exclusively about her, my second book in the Backman binge.

Britt-Marie’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband Kent recently had a stroke and the woman he’s been having an affair with calls to inform Britt-Marie of the news. How utterly despicable of him to treat Britt-Marie like she’s not there, like she’s some sort of convenient housekeeper and nonessential fixture in his life, instead of the cherished, devoted, self-sacrificing wife she’s always been. She’s decided to leave him and I cheered for Britt-Marie! She’s been a meticulous housewife for over 40 years but has no work experience outside of her home. I worried as she relocates to a nearby town and goes to an unemployment office to find a job and a place to stay. How in the world will this turn out?

But I should not have doubted Britt-Marie for a second. When Britt-Marie puts something on her to-do list, she sets out to get things done precisely and without delay. I can relate to her immediately since I make lists myself and can get a bit flustered if I can’t finish something on my list due to someone else’s lack of effort and cooperation (interfering with my determination to GET IT DONE).

Britt-Marie meets with a lady at the unemployment office, who seems shocked and a bit flustered that a sixty-fhree year old woman is string in front of her looking for a job. After some discussion on how Britt-Marie has helped Kent with his company everyday and Britt-Marie’s clarification on the unemployment lady’s competence, Britt-Marie feels compelled to try to improve the situation by a well placed (and in her mind sincere and honest) complement.

Britt-Marie says:

“You have a very modern hairstyle.”

“It’s very courageous of you to wear your hair so short when you have such a large forehead.”.

Determined and undeterred, Britt-Marie returns and secures a job as caretaker at a recreation center in Borg where she encounters a lot of fussy and messy kids who have a soccer team. Britt-Marie knows nothing about any of what she’s gotten herself into, with the exception of dirty soccer jerseys and mud all over the floor– not acceptable.

As the layers of Britt-Marie’s life unfold we find she’s like many of us. She’s lived for others at the expense of living for herself. She’s never learned to understand who she is or what she wants apart from what others need and what has to be taken care of. But as Britt-Marie opens her heart to the people in the town of Borg, they are never the same again, and neither is Britt-Marie. She finds that a place where she’s needed, where the kids needed her to be their soccer coach, where she finds solace among the routine of cleaning and bearing her feelings to a rat (who lives in the recreational center). And unexpected to me, Kent shows up to take Britt-Marie back home. Would she disappear and fade into the background of her old life or forge ahead into something just for herself? Britt-Marie Was Here and if you read this book you will need one forget she was.

“If a human being closes her eyes she can remember all the choices in her life. And realize they have all been for the sake of someone else.”

A Man Called Ove

“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”

Question: is there a book genre called Grumpy Old Men? If not I’ve tagged a few books on my bookstagram as #grumpyoldmenbooks and so far, A Man Called Ove has been one of my favorite. I have recommended this book many times to friends (book club too) but since I’ve been thinking about seeing the movie, I decided to read it again with a friend who had never heard of it (what rock has she been stuck under)? We both enjoy audiobooks and decided to get a copy from the library so we could read and discuss together.

My third book in my Backman binge, Ove is a widower, he likes everything to be in it’s proper place and has a sore spot for people who can’t follow simple and clear instructions; he finds them inept and incapable. (I’d there a book genre called grumpy old people – I think there should be).

Ove on the surface seems a bit abrasive. But far from that, at heart, he is a generous and lovable old man. He’s lonely and mourns the loss of the person who brought light into his heart, his wife Sonia. When Ove has some unruly neighbors move in that don’t follow the rules and seem to interrupt his solitude at every turn (Ove has a plan remember?) life changes. But we get to know the essence of Ove, a grumpy lovable character I was happy to see again during my reread.

Is there an author you would binge read? What is it about an author that makes you pick up their books without hesitation?

Published by booksbythecup

Lover of good books and tea

6 thoughts on “Books by Fredrik Backman – Reviews

    1. I’m glad you like the pictures! I’m working on some more specific things for the tea side of the blog based on some great suggestions I’ve received. Ove is my favorite and I really enjoyed reading him again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve heard good things about Beartown and had planned to read it after Ove but ran out of time and had to return it to the library. I’m hoping to get to it before the new Backman book comes out this summer I think

      Liked by 1 person

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