October 26, 2016
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A grandfather deals with dimming memories. As his family members try to help him, he must handle the inevitability of his age and passing on the best of his memories to his grandson. Author Fredrik Backman shares with readers a story that touches hearts and delights with its lyricism in the novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer.
Grandpa loves his grandson, Noah, and they meet on their special bench every day. But lately the area around the square where the bench sits has begun to change. The landscape shifts, odd objects appear and disappear, and the square itself has begun to shrink.
Noah’s enthusiasm and optimism never wane, however, and both grandfather and grandson share an intense love for math and the practical world of equations. None of this business with words and music that Noah’s father and Grandpa’s son, Ted, embraces. But lately even those equations have failed Grandpa in explaining why his memories have begun colliding.
He does remember the love of his life, however, and Grandma comes to visit in those moments when Noah doesn’t come. Grandpa and Grandma reminisce about their time together, how they found one another and their deep love for their son and grandson. Grandpa tells Grandma how much he misses her and how he regrets not being to fully explain Ted how much he loves him too.
These bonds are the few constants that remain for Grandpa. All his other thoughts and memories have begun to mix and change and—most frighteningly—go away. His greatest fear is that, through his fading mind, he’ll lose Ted and Noah before it’s time.
Author Fredrik Backman shares his intense love for language and the whimsical side of life in And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. As with his full novels, Backman uses language here to its full advantage. The result is a story where readers enjoy the writing as much as the plot and characters.
Because And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a novella, readers will be able to get through it in a single setting. The story’s beauty will encourage readers to go right back to the beginning and re-read the entire novella as much for the words chosen as for the endearing way Grandpa and Noah interact. The shorter length encourages a more literary approach, making readers concentrate a little harder but also rewarding them with an enriched relationship with the characters.
Backman manages to dress up Grandpa’s tragic condition in the most elegant of prose. He’s chosen unusual devices to convey Grandpa’s anguish and fear about the progression of his dementia. In his author’s note Backman shares that he wanted to write a personal story, and his sense of intimacy with the characters and Grandpa’s challenges shines through.
I highly recommend readers Bookmark And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer.
(I volunteered to review this book after receiving a copy from the publisher for an honest, objective review.)