Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Britt-Marie Was Here
One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it happened.

Fredrik Backman's books belong to that category of comfort books that you can always depend on to be a pick me up, make you smile, or even convince you to like your annoying and grumpy next-door neighbor. He is great at writing characters you don't want to understand but end up empathizing with anyways. He is also great at writing the same characters from the opposite perspective - where you end up disliking them. Britt-Marie first appeared in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, and boy, I was convinced that you couldn't meet a more annoying character anywhere else. And then Backman goes off and writes this book which portrays Britt-Marie in a totally different light.

This is where I would like to say that A Man Called Ove is still my favorite Backman book. I wasn't a huge fan of My Grandmother... but this book comes close to A Man Called Ove in terms of charm and enjoyment. In some ways, Britt-Marie Was Here is a sequel to My Grandmother... However, you don't have to read that book to understand this one. Other than sharing the titular character, there is nothing else in common between them.

When Britt-Marie Was Here begins, Britt-Marie is at the unemployment office, looking for a job. After being (very) persistent, she lands one as the manager of the recreation center in a little town called Borg. Somehow from there, she manages to become the coach of Borg's soccer team. However, Borg is closing more and more offices everyday and Borg's soccer team is not even registered which makes it hard for Britt-Marie to be recognized as the coach.

There are all kinds of humor to be found in this book, but interestingly, I found this book to be much more introspective than Backman's previous books. As much as I despised Britt-Marie in My Grandmother..., I found I liked her that much more in this one. Goes to say that you shouldn't make judgments about someone without imagining yourself in their shoes first.

Like many feel-good books and movies, a lot of what happens in this book is way out there (not in a fantasy way but in a very improbable way), but that didn't bother me. I was worried when I started this book that Backman's writing style may start to tire me. And although I see that happening at some point, this book did not trigger it. If anything, I enjoyed this book more than I expected to.

Have you read any Backman book yet?


I received this book for free for review from the publisher.

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