Wednesday, November 2, 2016

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

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The New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here offers an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him—even as they must find a way to let go.

“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.” 

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.

Source: advance hardcopy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

There are few books that manage to slip inside you and squeeze your heart. Once again, Fredrik Backman shows his genius as a writer reminding us of his gift to describe the intangible. In And Every Morning, we see the loving bond between grandfather and grandson, built of unconditional love, tested as Grandpa begins to lose his grasp of time and his memories. He does his best to recall the important moments and loves of his life as Noah sits patiently listening to the stories of his beloved Grandpa. About halfway through, the story feels like an endless loop as he becomes repetitive and the sense of time becomes fluid. One moment you're in the past and the next it's years out. All the while, the anchor seems to be Grandpa's beautiful connection with Noah.

"Why are you holding my hand so tight, Grandpa?" the boy whispers again.
"Because all of this is disappearing, Noahnoah. And I want to keep hold of you longest of all."

As you embark on this emotional read, you're smiling one moment during a sweet exchange between Grandpa and his loving wife, and the next you're falling apart because his fragile hold on the present is slipping away. You can't not feel bitter at time as the body and mind succumb to ageing. You can't not ache as that delicate tether between Grandpa, his son, and Noah weakens. Reliving Grandpa's memories was nostalgic but it wasn't until the end with how much time had lapsed that the floodgates broke wide open for me. 

I admire Fredrik Backman immensely and I often recommend his work to people looking for a good read. He is a magical storyteller with the ability to arrange these words in a way that makes you feel every single one of them. He brings out the humanity in all of his characters. Each one of them leaving their lasting mark on you. And Every Morning may just be his most precious book yet; just remember to grab the tissues when you're ready for it.

~ Bel

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