“…No one gets upset, if you don’t say anything. All almost-eight-year-olds know that.” -Fredrik Backman, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
This is an insightful quote, even if you don’t immediately understand it.
The hardest part of “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” for me is the divorce part. Elsa, is an almost-eight-year-old whose parents are divorced. She is a very “different” girl. She is precocious and strong-willed. She speaks her mind and is unafraid of asking difficult questions to the adults around her.
What is difficult for me about the book, another one dealing with grief (of death) and loss, is her tentative relationship with her father. Her father has a “new” family. Lisette and her children are her dad’s new family. She sees him every other weekend and it is not enough time with him. Elsa is also wary of “halfie,” her half-brother/sister, that her mother is pregnant with, whom she believes will “replace” her in her mom’s life. That once the new baby is born then she will become less important, maybe forgotten in her mom’s life. She sees this as the main reason she needs to spend more time with her dad.
This is the background behind the quote above. Elsa is wanting to tell her dad this and ask to have more time with her, but she is worried that it will make him uncomfortable, or he will say “no,” or a million other fears of rejection she might have.
What a difficult situation to wade through for an almost-eight-year-old.
I am compelled to keep reading and to find out what happens because of Backman’s masterful storytelling ability. But it is a hard one to read, and not too difficult to imagine. That is the power of such a painful story.