‘Granny has been telling 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 practise 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. 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 runs to her grandmother’s stories, to the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas. There, everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
So when Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has hurt, it marks the beginning of Elsa’s greatest adventure. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones-but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
Song For This Book: Go Rest High on that Mountain – Vince Gill
I hadn’t heard anything of this book before I came across it in Chapters one day. But upon reading the synopsis and the first few pages, I knew I had to take it home with me. I enjoy books that follow the adventures of younger kids, fairy tales, and the stories that grandparents tell, so I could resist this one.
This book follows Elsa, an almost-eight year old whose only friend is her eccentric grandmother. For years, her grandmother has been telling her about this wonderful land of Miamas, where all of her fairytales take place. But Elsa’s grandmother is sick, and passes away, leaving a treasure hunt for Elsa to complete in her absence. The treasure hunt involves delivering letters to people who live in their building, and through her adventure, Elsa learns that the people in her building are not what she had always assumed they were.
I’ve read quite a few books about grief and children dealing with grief, and this is one of the better ones. Losing someone you love is hard, especially for children who don’t always understand exactly what’s going on, even a kid as precocious as Elsa. Elsa’s grandmother is a genius at helping her granddaughter cope, and Elsa’s way of working though the loss makes for a wonderful, heartfelt read.
The Good Points of My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises:
As I’ve said, the portrayal of grief is great, and very realistic to what I’ve seen in my own work.
This book is filled with fairytales. Many of the chapters begin with one, and we get to meet all of the new characters through fairytales, though it can be tricky at first to figure out who the story is about. The stories that Elsa’s grandmother made up really capture the characters they are about, and are fun for even a grown up to read.
This book is a translation (the English version I read, anyway), and as far as translations go, this one is done well. I’ve read a fair few English translations, as well as a few French ones, and it’s not uncommon to lose something when a book isn’t in its original language. If that’s the case with this book, the Swedish version must be absolutely amazing.
I really enjoyed that this book sounded like it was being narrated by a nearly seven year old. Sometimes we ended up off topic or on a rant or things were interpreted funny. But that’s what kids do.
I loved all the characters in this book. Even the annoying ones. They were all so different and so complex, even if they didn’t seem like it in the beginning.
The Downsides of My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises:
Possibly because it was a translation, or possibly just because it was written that way, there were a lot of long paragraphs and run on sentences. Not the worst I’ve seen, but enough to be annoying at times.
It takes some time for Elsa to grow on you. She’s an obnoxious little kid, and a bit annoying early on. But she will grow on you, if you give her the time.
This book is rather slow to start. There’s a lot of setting the stage and getting to the main part of the story to get through, and it dragged a bit. It picks up significantly around a hundred pages in, though.
All in all, I really loved this book. Buying books without doing some proper research first has led me to some very dull books in the past, but not in this case. It was definitely one of the better impulse buys I’ve had over the years. I highly recommend it if you love fairy tales, kids, tonnes of Harry Potter references, and stories with great characters.
Have you read My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises? Let me know what you thought, because I really want to talk about this book!