My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

I’m not sure if I liked this. It was perfectly fine, a well done book, but I’m not sure at all if I liked it.

The whole precocious child point of view was fine, but not necessarily? Actually good? Actually interesting? Possibly never anything more than a gimmick? Not a bad gimmick, but one that I’ve seen before and am not in love with.

It was cute. My mother is an artist, and she hates it when people call her pictures cute. I’m down with a cute story some of the time, but I’m not sure of this one. It wanted to be very cute, but also wanted to handle complicated themes about death, and like, the nature of evil or something. Which can be very interesting themes! And I’m sure it’s possible to manage to successfully present those themes cutely! I’m just not sure this book manages.

It comes so close to triteness. While it never fully steps over, it gets so close to the border that I’m constantly worrying, is there going to be a toe over the line and sudden sentimentality. That would have been a death knell for this book.

The charm it does have is blunt. The kid is such a free spirit, and such a weirdo, and that’s enjoyable even when the world around her starts to resemble a Hallmark Channel movie. She’s a cool kid. I would have liked to see her in a more adventurous adventure.

It’s playing around with fairy tales and storytelling, but in a very dull way. The make believe world is all too neat, too orderly and formalized. That makes it feel fake and duller than it could be.

This is my girlfriend’s next book club book, and what I told her is that it’s nice but not special. The problems I have with it aren’t huge, it doesn’t ruin the experience. It just didn’t add up to a whole lot to me, but that might be that I’m very much not the target audience. It’s much too straight and kind to be my kind of book. It’s good for a nice straight book, but why? Is that something we need? That’s a more interesting question than anything raised in this novel.

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