Meet Elsa, a precocious almost eight your old, and her companion, the "wurse". The wurse apparently occupies his own apartment and dines on chocolate, and sometimes on energy bars. He is very old, howls a lot and seems to understand a secret language spoken by Elsa and her seventy-seven year old, juvenile delinquent granny. The language is Esperanto for those who read the book and may be wondering.
Like Elsa, I was a wrong child. She's wrong in that she is smart, insightful, outspoken and mostly right about everything. I was just wrong because I didn't like fairy tales. Stories about real people, living is real worlds, and doing read things were more my style. Because of that, I had a tough time with this novel.
As Elsa faces the daily onslaught of dragons and other sorts that bully and harass, granny calms her fears with fairy tales - lands populated by characters suspiciously similar to the collection of adults that live in Elsa's building. Oh, those metaphors didn't get by me, no sirree.
For me, the fairy tales, which made up close to half the novel, distracted. Just tell me about Granny, Elsa, the alcoholic psychiatrist, the lurker, the coffee maker and the rest. Straightforward and undecorated. Like Backman's first book, A Man Called Ove, the style borders on cute, again, just not for me. Backman builds eccentric characters, but in my opinion, doesn't know what to do with them once they have been born. I know plenty of people who rave about this book, and perhaps after book discussion group #2 takes it on next week, I will have better feelings.
Oh, one passage did move me. (Spoiler) The grown-up attempt to comfort Elsa about her grandmother's death saying that she was old and had used up all her life. Elsa replies that she is only seven, almost eight, and she did experience grannys' seventy-seven years; to her, granny was not yet old. Never thought of it that way. Quite profound.
Anyway, I'll rummage through the new and used books to find one that speaks to me on more realistic level. Harlequin romance, perhaps. Those are pretty realistic.
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