Goodreads blurb: From the author of the internationally bestselling ‘A Man Called Ove’, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.
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 takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. 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.
Now with a name like that and a cover like that any book lover worth his salt will find it hard not to pick this book up and read it, and true to its unconventional name and interesting cover, the book lives up to the ‘unconventional’ tag that most people will attribute to it. In fact so much so that it runs the danger of not being read completely. The initial slowness and uniqueness of the narrative can and will probably overwhelm most readers, but trust me when I say this, stick with the book beyond the first 20 odd pages and you will be taken on what ends up being quite a lovely pleasant journey.
As the blurb states, an ‘almost’ eight year old girl’s life is completely overturned when her best friend, her grandmother passes away. Gone are the days when Elsa could come home, cry her heart out, talk her heart out, argue about seemingly trivial things with her grandmother. With her passing, Elsa’s grandmother takes away most of what seems good to Elsa about her short life so far. She is completely at a loss as to what to do next, how to live the rest of her life.
And it is in this context that the final ‘treasure hunt’ that her grandmother sets her upon assumes importance. This gives Elsa a ‘purpose to her life’, an overarching noble goal to strive for, a final chance to prove to her grandmother that she is indeed worthy of all the trust that her grandmother reposed in her. That being said, the treasure hunt puts Elsa in the path of all the tenants and residents of the apartment building that she has spent all her life.
In fact it tests little Elsa’s courage and fortitude to an extent that even the little one couldn’t have imagined. As the treasure hunt crosses stage after stage Elsa soon realizes that it is more of a discovery of her grandmother’s past and her grandmother’s personality. With each stage, Elsa learns more about her grandmother as a person, and as an individual completely unique and different from how she knew her. The rest of the narrative takes us readers along on this bittersweet journey of Elsa where she figures out a lot of her grandmother’s past which explains the personalities of all her neighbors and their stories.
At the end of the book, readers are left with what can only be described as an extremely ‘warm’ feeling in their hearts and a beatific smile on their faces. The impact that this little girl’s treasure hunt has on us readers is nothing short of magical and therein lies the charm of this uniquely unconventional paperback.
A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.