Advance review copy from Lovereading
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy. Standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa runs to her grandmother’s stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. So when Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has hurt, it marks the beginning of Elsa’s greatest adventure. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones-but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
‘Every seven year old deserves a superhero’ says Elsa’s Granny – and Elsa’s superhero is definitely her Granny. Elsa is just a little bit different from other children her age and it would be fair to say that Granny is a bit different from other people her age too! Fredrik Backman has written another charming story, full of heroes and monsters, magical lands and superpowers. I loved ‘A Man Called Ove’ and wondered if the author could produce another novel I would enjoy as much. But I needn’t have worried as right from the beginning I was hooked by the eccentric, determined granny and wise Elsa. I really enjoyed the way that Elsa gradually began to understand that the people in her grandmother’s fairy tales had counterpart very firmly in this world, and that they were in fact people that she knew. Through delivering her granny’s letters, she begins to learn more about her neighbours and their connection to her granny. There is so much humour in this book that I found myself laughing aloud at parts but there is also a sense of sadness as you come to find out more about the other characters. It’s not a sad book though: in true fairy tale style, I think it would be fair to say it has a happy ending. I think that the author shows through Elsa and Granny that it’s okay to be different and through the other characters, that everyone has stories which make them what they are. As Elsa realises in the book, ‘it will take a long time to understand that [they] are not what they seem’. A really lovely book and one I’d recommend to anyone who loved Ove.
(Read March 2015)(less)