Fredrik Backman - 2015 - Atria
A huge fan of "A Man Called Ove," I was anxious to try Fredik Backman's newest book. Although I liked the book overall, I struggled with it as well. It took me a long while to finish this one. Here's why...
In this story seven year old (almost eight) Elsa, needs a superhero and a place she can feel safe. Her parents are divorced and her mom is expecting her half-sibling. She feels like an outsider at home and she doesn't seem to fit in at school either. The only person who understands Elsa is her grandmother -- she's her "superhero."
Opinionated and abrasive, granny is a retired surgeon who has seen plenty of heartache in her lifetime. She spent a lot of time trying to save the lives of others in war ravaged countries. She has always felt like and outsider herself so she knows how Elsa feels, Trouble is granny is 70 years old and is dying of cancer,
Granny has created a secret language and secret kingdom for Elsa -- "The Land of Almost Awake", a place where she can escape. She leaves Elsa with a mission to carry on once she's gone. It's a series of letters, "apologies", that she is to deliver to people that live in her apartment building. As Elsa delivers the letters, one by one, she learns more and more about her grandmother's earlier life and about her relationship with the people she felt she had wronged. The process not only helps Elsa work through her grief, but also helps to create a new extended family for her.
The characters in this book are fairly well developed, quirky yet real. Elsa seemed wise beyond her years and was very endearing. This is an imaginative story with some complex themes. However, I found this one tough to read often struggling with the writing. The story was told through the eyes of Elsa who often seemed way to advanced, making her feel less than authentic at times.
Fans of A Man Called Ove may still want to try this one. Just because I struggled don't mean you will.