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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry By Fredrik Backman

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Elsa is a seven year old girl that is exceptionally bright, but different than other little girls her age. She spends most of her time with her grandmother who is very different, also.  She lives in an apartment building with a wide range of characters. Some she gets along with and others are difficult. Her grandmother tells Elsa fairy tale stories that she makes up in the Land-of-Almost-Awake.  They have their own language and the stories take place in six kingdoms that her grandmother has given names to. Elsa knows that her grandmother was a surgeon in the war but knows very little about the life she lived or the people that she knew except for a group of photos taped to the ceiling in her grandmother’s room.

When Elsa discovers that her grandmother has cancer and is dying, she is in a constant panic. Her grandmother tells her that she needs her to complete a task of delivering letters to the tenants that live in the house. After her grandmother dies, she begins the task. Angry at her grandmother for making her do this but also curious as to what the letters of apology mean and why they are going to the tenants in the house, she carries out her promise.

 Elsa has a good relationship with her parents even though they are divorced. She lives mostly with her mom who helps her understand why her grandmother needed to do this. Her mom explains to Elsa that she didn’t have a close relationship with her own mother when she was growing up because her mother spent most of her time traveling to save children from the disasters of war and that was the reason they often disagreed about things. As Elsa delivers the letters she learns more and more about the relationship that her grandmother had with each and every one of the tenants and why she felt the need to apologize

In the end the reader understands where the names of the kingdoms come from and what the relationship was between her grandmother and the tenants. The reader also understands why it was so important to her grandmother that Elsa be the one deliver the letters. Backman tells the story often in fairy tale style but with humor and sarcasm that makes the reader laugh knowing much of it is coming from a seven year old.  The story appeals to the child in all of us and has a fairy tale ending.