Britt-Marie Was Here
I am tempted to say that Britt-Marie Was Here is a book about heart. Instead, I will say that it is heart. It’s about leaving your security when you’re no longer young, starting over, breaking out of the shell you’ve lived in for practically your entire life. It’s about opening up your world and your life and, yes, your heart and embracing life and learning happiness and understanding. It’s about tolerance and acceptance and bravery and justice.
If you read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, you met Britt-Marie. She was implacable and disliked, but as is the case with Fredrik Backman’s novels, the reader came to understand her at the end. Her story continues in Britt-Marie Was Here.
You might think that of all of the characters in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry that Britt-Marie was an odd choice to invest an entire novel on. There were more interesting characters certainly but after reading this novel, I can assure you that the choice was wise.
Britt-Marie is like an old child or an immigrant who comes to a country barely speaking the language. She goes to the employment agency looking for a job. She hasn’t had once in forty years and there looks like there’s nothing for her except for a poorly paying job as a caretaker of a recreation facility in a town, Borg, no one’s ever heard of. She takes the job. Despite speaking the same language as Borg’s inhabitants, she frequently has no idea of what they are saying.
At first, it seems as if Borg and Britt-Marie are destined to rub each other the wrong way, but soon they grow on each other. Britt-Marie becomes the coach of the soccer team despite disliking soccer and knowing nothing about it except that it made her husband, Kent, exuberant.
She soon discovers that soccer is like life. Soccer teaches her about friendships and passion and enthusiasm, which she has lacked for such a long time. Through soccer and the relationships she acquires because of it, she learns to live again and to take chances, despite the fact that it was her late sister who was the one to take chances.
However, so you aren’t misled, this is really not a novel about soccer. It’s a novel of discovery.
I fell in love with this book much the same way as I fell in love with A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, but maybe more so. I felt myself clinging to and savoring each word. There are laughs and tears and none are forced. The philosophy of Britt-Marie Was Here is one of gentle hope and understanding in a world where little is guaranteed.
I very highly recommend Britt-Marie Was Here.
I was provided a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From Amazon: Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel
Rating: (5 out of 5 butterflies)