My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry Book Review

Book Review by Dinh.

4.5 stars



“Granny has been telling these fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember In the beginning, they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practice Granny’s secret language, and a little because Granny is just about as nutty as a granny should be. But lately, the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on.”

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy- as in 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 takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones, but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry Book Review


I have to give Swedish author Fredrik Backman high praises. He is becoming one of my favorite authors.

I absolutely loved his debut novel, A Man Called Ove and his second book My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry is also fantastic.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry had an array of things that made this book an enjoyable read.

Here’s what I liked:


Written originally in Swedish but translated for international readers, the writing is simple, yet to the point. Backman has a keen mental perception and understanding of the human condition that goes beyond the writing style itself.

I did not know that this book was translated until I read his bio on Wikipedia. The translation of the novel was good and I didn’t have any issues with it. I read this book fast as it captivated my attention.

The novel was 370 pages long in the hardcover version and because of the ease of reading, it felt like a quick book.



This novel’s story line is about the main character Elsa and the secondary supporting characters. It is a character driven story that pulls your emotion making you laugh, sad, distress and relief, and happy.

In My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry , the discerning focus is the 7 year old Elsa and how she deals with life after the death of her grandmother. Elsa’s parents are divorced and her mother pregnant.

When her grandmother dies, she leaves a series of letters for Elsa to find in a form of  a treasure hunt and for her to give it to the recipient on the letter.

Elsa has no one to guide her like before. Her grandmother was the center of her life and world, and with her gone Elsa has to find her own way.


My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry Review



I liked all the characters in this novel; main and secondary.

Backman skillfully takes outwardly looking misfits and breathes a heart and soul in them that makes them likable and endearing. They tend to be unique individuals that are not well adapted to societal norm.

I think he’s giving a nod everyone; we are all different and what is different is good.

You can not help but love Elsa.

Elsa is a child genius but socially awkward. She has no friends at school and is constantly bullied for being different.

There’s a heart-wrenching scene where Elsa gets chased by the “Harry Potter Girl” but then gets saved by the Monster. It was a relief and uplifting moment when she was saved. Throughout the book I rooted and sympathized for her. You feel sad for this unique girl who gets bullied at school.

As Elsa goes on her quest of delivering the letters for the intended receivers, she goes on a journey in discovering the the realities of her grandmother’s legacy and growing a little wiser as well.

Yet, at heart she is still a child who needs the security in her Gryffindor scarf. Elsa is precocious and at times she does seem way far beyond her years but then when you think of the fairy tale world she needs to live in you remember that she is still a young child.

I also enjoyed Granny’s character. She is crazy and puts a bit of fun in everything. I liked that she had a very strong connection with Elsa and gave her the love that she needed. She also taught Elsa that being different was special and nothing wrong with it.


There is nothing wrong with being different. Granny said that only different people change the world.


The secondary characters in this novel are interesting.

I particularly was interested in Britt-Marie, who you could tell had her own story going on by the hints and remarks mentioned by Elsa’s mother. Britt-Marie is not what she appeared either as with so many of Backman’s characters. (Backman’s third book is called Britt-Marie Was Here will be an interesting revelation of her life).

The characters that live same apartment house and their stories get told as we progress in the the book. Backman deftly weaves these characters together and tell their story.


Fredrik Backman's My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry


There were a couple of things about the book that I didn’t like.

I found it hard to believe Elsa at times. Although Elsa is precocious, I found it a bit hard to believe that she could go online at age 5 about to turn 6, to read about the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that happened on the day she was born.

I know she’s a child genius but I couldn’t get over that point. She seems too far beyond her years.

Another thing I didn’t like was the fairy tale world. It was a bit hard and confusing to keep up the fairy tale world with who’s who and the complex rules in the kingdom. After a while I didn’t focus on the specifics but let it wash over me and then I enjoyed it more.


My Final Thoughts!

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry was a delightful read. Whilst it had some elements that I didn’t like, overall its character driven story line came together in a thoughtful way.

The novel’s moral of the story is that there’s nothing wrong being different is a heartwarming tale that will lift your spirits.

I recommend this endearing book to anyone!


Get the book or listen to it here.

Check out Backman’s A Man Called Ove book review and Britt-Marie Was Here.

See our other book reviews.


Have you read any of Backman’s books? Which book is your favorite? Does this book pique your interest?

14 thoughts on “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry Book Review

  1. I am so happy you were able to love this book as much as I did. I know what you mean about the translations being so good. I don’t usually like translated novels but I had no problem whatsoever with this book myself. And all the characters, even the secondary ones, are so well developed!

    1. Hello Olivia!

      I love F. Backman! What great books he writes. I have read translated books and most of the time it’s done really well and you don’t really notice it. The only reason I would have picked up on it is that he’s from Sweden. 🙂

      I totally agree with you on how the character, even the minor ones are well developed and believable. Are you going to read his third book, Britt- Marie Was Here? I certainly am. 🙂

  2. Quite a sad story though and it is sad to feel how it is like to lose someone who happen to be your main pillar of support.

    I do think that this story is quite a good read to have.

    1. Hi Arthur!
      This novel is sad in that Granny dies but it’s uplifting and hopeful as well.

      It is a great book to read. I enjoyed it and hope that you will too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Ha! Did Olivia’s review spark your interest to read this book? Or, was this read an eventuality waiting to happen? =) I do have a fondness and weak spot for Swedish authors. I’m encouraged by your review to pick up this book. Sounds so heartfelt and uplifting. I love a child genius. 😀

    1. Hi Lonna!
      I loved A Man Called Ove and so naturally picked up this book to read as I think Backman is fantastic. Olivia’s review just confirmed what I thought of Backman. 🙂
      Don’t be surprise when I do the review for Britt-Marie was Here, also by Backman. That’s up next. 🙂

      I do also have an inclination towards international writers, not that I go looking for it, but somehow it comes across my path.

      Take care!

  4. Hi Dinh, Good review, this book sounds like a fun read. The relationship between Elsa and her grandmother is something I would like to read about in the book. I was close with my grandmother and I think it would remind me of the times we spent together. Also, to which age group would you recommend this book? With the main character a young girl and the fairy tale aspect it seems like a younger crowd might also enjoy reading it. My mom works in a school so maybe the book is something I can tell her about so she could look into reading it with the kids. Thanks!

    1. Hi Summerly!
      It was fun to read My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She’s Sorry.
      I also loved the fact that Elsa was really close to her Granny. They were both very likable characters in the story.
      I think this book is good for teens and beyond. The fairy tale aspect is a way of explaining how being different is good. It’s not your typical fairy tale.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi Dinh,
    Thanks for this review – I haven’t heard of this author but I’ll have to check it out. The book sounds like it’s sad – did you find it to be sad or uplifting? Also, the title is pretty interesting (and long LOL) does the story explain it’s meaning?

    1. Hi Teresa!
      I really like Fredrik Backman’s style of writing. His stories are poignant and usually have some humor in it which I love.
      I did find it sad in parts, especially with the death of Granny and Elsa going through a tough time at school. However, it was uplifting too. It was hopeful and charming as well.
      The title is long, although it’s interesting. It does explain the meaning of the title in the story. 🙂

  6. Hi Dinh,
    This sounds like a fabulous story idea! I’m really glad I came by to read your review. I can think of a few people that might enjoy this for Christmas. Heck I’D like to read it!
    I love the generational aspect of it, and I feel particularly attached to the memory of my maternal grandparents, so anything that keeps that spirit close to my heart is most welcome.
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Kevin!
      I love the connection between Granny and Elsa too. It’s lovely to have such a close relationship. Although it’s sad with the passing of Granny, the book is not sad as Granny left tools to help Elsa cope with life. It’s inspirational at times and funny at others.

      I hope you get a chance to read it. I really enjoyed it.:)

  7. This is an exciting webpage. Your synopsis of the book about grandmother was so well written I was drawn in. Now, I must buy the book!
    Thank you.
    I was intrigued by your lesson on word definitions too. Just yesterday I was writing a post and coujld not figure out which to use Rooting or Routing. I was talking about a sports team. So I looked it up – what a concept. LOL
    The results were surprising. I never did find a good answer.
    root vs rout vs route: Common Errors in English
    You can root for your team (cheer them on) and hope that they utterly smash their opponents (create a rout), then come back in triumph on Route 27 (a road).
    root Meaning(s)
    o (n) (botany) the usually underground organ that lacks buds or leaves or nodes; absorbs water and mineral salts; usually it anchors the plant to the ground
    o (n) the place where something begins, where it springs into being
    o (n) (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed
    o (n) a number that, when multiplied by itself some number of times, equals a given number
    o (n) the set of values that give a true statement when substituted into an equation
    o (n) someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)
    o (n) a simple form inferred as the common basis from which related words in several languages can be derived by linguistic processes
    o (n) the part of a tooth that is embedded in the jaw and serves as support
    o (v) take root and begin to grow
    o (v) come into existence, originate
    o (v) plant by the roots
    o (v) dig with the snout
    o (v) become settled or established and stable in one’s residence or life style
    o (v) cause to take roots
    rout Meaning(s)
    o (v) defeat disastrously
    o (v) cause to flee
    o (n) a disorderly crowd of people
    o (n) an overwhelming defeat
    o (v) dig with the snout
    o (v) make a groove in
    route Meaning(s)
    o (n) an established line of travel or access
    o (n) an open way (generally public) for travel or transportation
    o (v) send documents or materials to appropriate destinations
    o (v) send via a specific route
    o (v) divert in a specified direction
    root in News
    o Drive up for root beer floats
    o Spurs rout Heat 113-77 in Game 3 of NBA Finals
    o Asian stocks fell, extending a global rout, after the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged, raising concern central banks from Tokyo to Washington are increasingly reluctant to add more stimulus.
    route in News
    o Route 10 west closed
    o Route 30 eastbound is now open

    1. Hi Patricia!
      Thanks for all the different ways I can use root, rout, and route.
      Words can be confusing at times, especially when they sound the same and the spelling can be hard to remember.
      I love to learn new words and expand my vocab.

      I am please that My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (what a long title!) has piqued your interest. The synopsis is not written by me but quoted from the book. Only the review in this book review was my own words.
      The book is a fantastic read. I really like Backman’s story telling. He is very insight in the human condition…and has a way of making me laugh.
      I will like anyone who can make me laugh. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by at Arlene’s book club!

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