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Book Review: My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises Cover - a little blonde girl is standing next to a large black dog looking out into the distance

A Girl, Her Grandmother, Their Fairytale

I read Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises as the May selection for The Girly Book Club. If you’re a gal who loves to read and you’d like to get together with other gals in your area to read a book that the club is reading internationally, find your club here. Reviews for other GBC books can be found here and here.

Relationships are important

The key point in this book is that relationships are the cornerstone of one’s life. Don’t underestimate them and ask questions so you can build understanding about the other person. Elsa’s grandmother patiently answers all of Elsa’s questions with an honesty that is gifted to grandmothers. Their relationship is clear and strong, as Elsa is bullied at school and struggles to make sincere connections with others.

“…life saving and driving people nuts are Granny’s superpowers. Which perhaps makes her a bit of a dysfunctional superhero.” (pg 3)

Granny is the catalyst to everything in this tale. She’s the true protagonist (and possibly antagonist, depending on which character’s point of view you take). Elsa and her Granny get into all sorts of troublesome situations, which I personally enjoyed. I loved that Granny would do what she pleased, even go so far as to fling poop at police. She protects Elsa in her way, using her super powers of story-telling and detail to weave an alternate reality for Elsa. This alternate reality is called the Land-of-Almost-Awake. It is a reflection of reality: elaborate kingdoms, citizens that are tangled up in wars, royals that rule the lands.

The Gift

As a knight in the Land-of-Almost-Awake, Elsa is required to take on missions and complete them. Her grandmother conjures the most detailed quests for Elsa, putting her utmost faith in her ability to complete them. Elsa, curious about the meaning of the missions, takes them on due to her knightly pride. She is a knight of the Land-of-Almost-Awake and she will not forsake her duty. Plus, her only friend in the world (her grandmother) is trusting her to complete them, regardless of how hard they may seem to an almost eight year old.

“You’re not a little kid Elsa. You always say I should treat you like a grown-up. So stop answering me like a little kid. Why do you fight?” (pg 61)

Wanting to be treated like an adult is one of Elsa’s most endearing traits. What child doesn’t want to be a part of the adult conversation? To have their voice heard and their opinion respected as part of the decision making process? I was like Elsa as a child. I loved listening to adult conversation, trying to navigate what they were talking about, enjoying listening to different points of view and deciding which camp I fell into. Blessed to have a mother who would indulge in my quest for knowledge, my questions were answered. Had I also been blessed with internet at the time, Wikipedia would have been my best friend as well. However, my tool is the dictionary. I loved looking up words to figure out a new context, a new piece to the word puzzle.

Delivering Letters

As with all good things, they must come to an end. It is fairly clear from the beginning of the story that Elsa is going to experience her own loss and coming of age. Elsa is set to go on the greatest scavenger hunt of them all while dealing with the new emotions of grief, loss, anger and forgiveness. She sets out on her journey to deliver the first letter, along with Granny’s regards and apology.

Elsa’s Granny is the best schemer of all time. She has taught Elsa that everything has meaning, even if she doesn’t understand it right now. In order to have no fear during that time of ambiguity, Granny sends her on this journey to meet people that she’s been living around her whole life but doesn’t know who they are. As she delivers letter after letter, Elsa discovers people. She discovers their messiness, stories, and love. As each of the surface level characters are taken to a depth of 1000 feet, it is apparent that Elsa is meant to come of age with a community that has been encouraged to circle her with what love they can give.

Receiving Love

Elsa is experiences love from the adults closest to her – her mother and Granny. However, she’s the subject of the bully’s attention at school. If you haven’t ever been bullied or witnessed it, the account that is in this novel is a fairly accurate one. You learn to run, quickly. Learn to avoid certain places at certain times. Perpetuate the fear outside of the bullying environment. Being bullied results in being hyper-aware and distrustful of people. Elsa is keenly aware of her predicament and wants to have friends her own age, to feel the friendly love that familial love cannot provide. Outside of your immediate circle, it is an incredible blessing in life is to receive love.  Friends love you for who you are, who you are becoming and, most importantly, they grow with you.

Through Granny’s letter delivery quest, Elsa begins to realize that she has an ability to connect with people. Her interpersonal skills aren’t always on point but what almost eight year old has refined that super power? Elsa begins to cultivate the respect that her neighbours had for her Granny, sometimes changing it into love for herself, as she worked through her grief. This mature little girl receives love in so many ways: people taking the time to drive her, hearing the content of the letters, saving her from bullies, accompanying her on walks. It was an impressive coming together of the characters from the Land-of-Almost-Awake. As Elsa discovers each of them as their characters, she has an automatic connection with them. After all, the master tale spinner has been helping her to understand them in fairy tale form for most of her life.

Overall…

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologizes is a book that takes the reader through the Land-of-Almost-Awake and drowns them in the theme of humanity, particularly relationships. Elsa’s story picks up steam with the final quest, this book is an impressively simple read that is slow to start. Start to finish this one!

Four stars!

(PS I picked up the British version and loved it. Reading it with an accent and learning some new vocabulary was fun!)

Book Review: Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl

Cover of Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl - Reviewed January 2017
Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living by Paulette Dahl is truly a gift from her heart to yours.

When I first read Love Letters, I ditched the suggested guide and read it cover to cover. Mainly so that I would be able to give an appropriate review on content. However, this review will cover content and experience, as I took some additional time to experience the book as recommended, by reading Letters randomly.

Reading the book in rogue style (cover to cover) tugged at my insides in a blessed way. Something within me knew that certain letters were just. Right. Dahl doesn’t back down from the darker, deeper emotions that visit each of us during the course of living. The importance of the emotional pairings demonstrates the duality of perception. Not simply that life is duality but rather, that acceptance of the emotional experience is okay. It is okay to accept grief when it comes to you. Same with depression. The Letters acknowledge these seasons in our lives, along with an appreciation for them and a line of caution about how they may impact us. There is a balance and sense of honour for each Letter, regardless of the topic. Readers will experience emotional ties to this book that they didn’t know they had and should prepare to be surprised by what arises.

Take some time with the book.

Readers should take the time to enjoy the preface of Love Letters, as it explains Dahl’s intentional use of Love as a verb (yes, with a capital L!), rearrangements and dis-section of some terms. As I was reading the preface, I was thankful for the explanation of the deliberate choices she had made in getting her point across. I am also deeply grateful for her sharing the process it took to arrive at the concept for the Love Letters.

When reading the book as intended, I arrived at the same set of letters a few times and have come to appreciate the need for constant reminders during this season of my life. I discovered that reading the Letters out loud had more impact for me. Made me read at a slower speed and really consider the communication from the Letters to me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The length of the Letters is perfect (maximum of four pages) and the smaller details are well-thought out (like the hearts around the page numbers). I would recommend it for anyone who would like to look at their emotions in a different way, is looking to explore their internal world, or is curious about what Letters may let them do.

Four stars.


Completed this for BookTasters. Want to get free books in exchange for an honest review? They’re fabulous to work with and I highly recommend them!

What’s Up at ReadViews: January 2017

It’s January, a fabulous time to read, review and generally be ambitious.

Reading-wise, I’m pretty excited about this year. I’ve made a personal goal of reading 40 books. You can join me on Goodreads and see how I’m doing with the reading challenge!


Here are the ReadViews you can expect in January:

Cover for The Blood Red Nails of War by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017
The Blood Nails of War
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of The Cottage on the Border by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017

The Cottage on The Border: The Jenna Kroon Series
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of The Farm on Nieuw Land Road by Hannah Warren - Reviewing January 2017
The Farm on Nieuw Land Road: The Jenna Kroon Series
Author: Hannah Warren

Cover of Lover Letters by Paulette Dahl - Reviewing in January 2017
Love Letters: Extraordinary Loving for Everyday Living
Author Paulette Dahl


This month I’ll be reading:

Cover of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Reading in January 2017
The Great Gatsby
Author: F.Scott Fitzgerald

Cover of Alice Munro's Best: Selected Short Stories - Reading January 2017
Alice Munro’s Best: Selected Stories
Author: Alice Munro

Cover of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown - Reading January 2017
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Author: Brené Brown

Cover of The Rose and The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh - Reading January 2017
The Rose and The Dagger
Author: Renée Ahdieh

For The Girly Book Club

Cover of Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra - Reading January 2017
Only Daughter
Author: Anna Snoekstra