Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero.
The relationship between a grandparent and their grandchild is incredibly special, or rather, it should be. Backman’s wonderfully titled My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises is a perfect exploration of the beautifully bonkers relationship one girl has with her granny and how that relationship develops the more Elsa comes to understand the woman she loves so dearly.
Elsa, a mature-before-her-time seven-year-old, finds it difficult to make friends with children her own age but knows that she can always rely on the love and support of her eccentric grandmother. Her mother and father barely talk to one another since the divorce and with her mother heavily pregnant with Halfie, her half-sibling, Elsa comes to value her grandmother and her stories more and more. But when tragedy strikes, Elsa begins to follow a trail of letters (or apologies) left for her to deliver by her grandmother and realises that she has to discover who her Granny was in order to let her go.
This was my first experience of Backman and I found his quirky way of writing really easy to dive straight into and love – it was very reminiscent of Jonasson’s A Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared which is another quirky story I adore. From the first page, Backman creates a strong reader connection with Elsa and the magic of her relationship with her Granny is naturally crafted, making it a perfect line to hang the story from.
It is a story with two threads, reality and fairytale, and as you continue through the story the boundaries between the two become more blurred. Granny invents a series of fairytale myths and legends from which Elsa is supposed to learn from and live by. As Elsa delves deeper into her Granny’s past, she comes to realise that these stories are not entirely fantastical but rather that they are the stories of real people who are all connected to her Granny. Although not always seamlessly incorporated, I really enjoyed this interweaving of the mystical and found it a very clever way of introducing the traumatic backstories. Fairy tales are stories children learn and remember and by associating her grandmother with these myths and legends, you come to realise that Elsa will always keep her Granny close to her heart.
Backman’s novel is an interesting look at how relationships are formed and woven together to make up the fabric of a person’s life. Elsa begins to unravel who her Grandmother was when it is too late to ask her directly. She has to use her Granny’s actions, effect on people and memory to truly discover the strange and magical woman she thought she knew and to also find out her place within that history.
This book is a really easy and enjoyable read and as one little girl who adored her Granny I loved the message that though life may go on, the memory of a fantastically fabulous Granny will last a lifetime.