“Granny’s 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.” A story about life and death and one of the most important human rights, the right to be different.
Just like his first book A Man Called Ove this is a gem! At first I was having a hard time because of the fantasy/fairy tales that took up so much of the story. I don’t like that genre. But Granny is a story teller and as the book progressed I could see where this make believe land was an integral part of the larger picture and was laying the foundation. I never know how much to tell about the story, as I don’t want to spoil it unfolding for you as you read. I wish now I had paid more attention to the tales as I read the first half of this book! I really should go back and read it over. If you love fantasy and make-believe kingdoms then you’ll REALLY love this heartwarming tale told through the eyes of almost eight year old Elsa.
Fredrik Backman knows how to write characters. He pegs human nature to a tee and finds redeeming qualities in even the ‘horrible’ characters. He has a gift for taking a group of misfits and turning them into a family full of love. I hope he never gives up writing!
Elsa is just full of wisdom for her age. And Granny for all her oddity! I’m just going to share some quotes from the book with you to whet your appetite!
‘Maimos is Elsa and Granny’s secret kingdom. It is one of six kingdoms in the Land-of-Almost-Awake. Granny came up with it when Elsa was small and Mum and Dad had just got divorced and Elsa was afraid of sleeping because she’d read on the internet about children who died in their sleep. Granny is good at coming up with things. So when Dad moved out of the flat and everyone was upset and tired, Elsa sneaked out the front door every night and scampered across the landing in her bare-feet into Granny’s flat, and then she and Granny crawled into the big wardrobe that never stopped growing, and then half-closed their eyes and set off.’
‘It’s difficult to say for sure whether Granny is a bit odd cause she spent too much time in Miamas, or Miamas is a bit odd because Granny’s spent too much time there. But this is the source of all of Granny’s amazing, monstrous, magical fairy tales.’
This is Granny’s motto: ‘all seven year olds deserve superheroes.
And anyone who doesn’t agree needs their head examined.’
* Elsa see the quality in everyone that makes them a superhero!
‘It’s strange how quickly the significance of a certain smell can change, depending on what path it decides to take through the brain. It’s strange how close love and fear live to each other.’
‘She stays there, grinning, the wurse does too, she’s almost sure about that. And it’s much more difficult being afraid of shadows and the dark while grinning.’ *(the wurse is a beast that protects, in real life he is a dog and my favorite character in the book!)
‘The police car skids into the street, but Sam is long gone by then. Elsa collapses into the snow as if her clothes have been emptied of whatever was in there. She feels Alf catching her and hears him hissing at the wurse to run up the stairs before the police catch sight of it. She hears Britt-Marie panting and the police crunching through the snow. But her consciousness is already fading, far away. She’s ashamed of being so afraid that she just closes her eyes and escapes into her mind. No knight of Miamas was ever so paralyzed with fear. A real knight would have stayed in position, straight-backed, not taken refuge in sleep. But she can’t help it. It’s too much reality for an almost eight year old.
She wakes up on the bed in Granny’s bedroom. It’s warm. She feels the wurse’ nose against her shoulder and pats it’s head.
“You’re so brave,” she whispers.
The wurse looks as if maybe it deserves a cookie.’
‘And Maud bakes cookies, because when the darkness is too heavy to bear and too many things have been broken in too many ways to ever be fixed again, Maud doesn’t know what weapon to use if one can’t use dreams.’
* Dreams are the cookies Maud is always baking throughout the story. I looked up online to see if there was a real recipe for these cookies and lo and behold they are a real Swedish cookie! And since when things are broken in too many ways to be fixed we all need dreams here’s the recipe for when someone you love needs them: Swedish Dream Cookies
Read this book and A Man Called Ove if you haven’t. You won’t be sorry!
On the house hunting front not so good. We’ve looked at 6 so far and one (the one with the tree house and the horses behind) is to die for, but the yard and the drive are not good for accommodating the travel trailer. Darn! I want that house! Can’t talk Bossman into selling it though :=) Another one is a nice little brick one, really laid out nice and gorgeous 1950’s kitchen, but…no back yard all front and near an industrial park and lots road noise. So we keep looking. 4 to look at today. This might take more than one trip down! But on the bright side, the local library is having their annual book sale this weekend! Yea! We’ve had lovely weather. Sunny and near or at 80 each day. The mountains and the people are lovely. We have a sweet young gal for a realtor and I really like her. Other than the terrible wifi service the campground we are at is great. Right on the Nolichucky River. We go to sleep to the sound of the rushing water! Saturday we are moving to a different camp close to Warrior Path State Park. Maybe my wifi connection will be better and I can post easier. Hope your having a great week!