I woke up just after 5:00 yesterday. Would have liked a little more sleep, but I love how much easier it is to wake up when it’s already daylight. Had to work at 9:00. Subbing at another library, enjoying it. Picked up a book.
Okay, people, your really need to read this one.
I finished it before breakfast. Granted, I probably should have eaten earlier. That’s just the way my system is. And, you know, giving my metabolism it’s best shot to not be sluggish. It was a quick read, yet not. Beautiful. In that awful way only something heartbreaking can be.
I borrowed it from my local library. Interlibrary loan actually. But I’m going to have to buy a copy.
I was bawling like a baby. But not like a baby, because babies are loud and insistent, wanting attention, their needs met; I was mostly quiet and so glad to be alone. On my own, solitary, afloat in the words and the emotion. Though as I went, I knew I had to share this with someone. Babies can cry without tears. Mine were big and ploppy. Wet spots on the blue and purple and green of my sheet. My sleeve was damp.
According to the author, he never meant for it to be published.
Here are my latest First Words, by Fredrik Backman:
There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:
“Don’t be scared.”
We’re frail. Temporary. And, as the main character in this novella, sometimes our minds go before our bodies. Who doesn’t fear that? Losing yourself. Your self. Finding it harder and harder to find your way back.
Whether it’s through physical or mental deterioration, we don’t want to lose our autonomy. I’ve had more than one man tell me, that if it comes down to it, they’d rather go off into the wilderness. Who would know the difference? Another old guy wandered off, and fell victim to the elements.
As his memory is fading, the main character – the grandfather we also see as the father – works at finding ways to hold the memories most important to him the longest.
And I’m freaking crying just trying to type this, describe it to you. It’s that… effective. Effectively written. All the little big bits that are him. A story effectively told. I was excited to be able to recommend it to a lady at the library yesterday. Today, I get to share it with you.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
I started my haphazard First Words series with Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. It wasn’t bad. Though if it hadn’t been for book club, I may not have finished it. A book really needs to grab me in the first few pages, or I won’t take the time to read it; I don’t have time. The First Words got my attention, in a good way. And although the first few pages elicited a strong reaction, it wasn’t good. I found Granny incredibly annoying. Elsa and Granny are both over-the-top, largely unbelievable characters.
But the concept of the story is interesting, involving the power of story. And there is, of course, more to Granny than what we see the most of. Disappointingly, something I found out was supposed to be a twist, at least as implied by the book-club-guide questions my group used, was… rather easily expected pretty early on. There were a couple things that surprised me, though, so…
Any way, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was worth reading. But nowhere near And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. And Every Morning is a much quicker read to boot.
More First Words
The first page goes on:
Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild. When a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it. Noah’s feet don’t touch the ground when his legs dangle over the edge of the bench, but his head reaches all the way to space, because he hasn’t been alive long enough to allow anyone to keep his thoughts on earth. His grandpa is next to him and is incredibly old, of course, so old now that people have given up and no longer nag him to start acting like an adult. So old that it’s too late to grow up. It’s not so bad, either, that age.
And then… it gets better from there.
If you like to read at all, you really have to read And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer.
Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to know someone else got to experience it.
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