Pages: 370 Pages
Publication: September 4th, 2013
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
I want to firstly thank Washington Square Press for sending me a copy of this to read and review as a part of the BookTube tours!
This book is honestly something else. I was expecting some lighthearted quick read about a little girl going on a mission after the death of her grandmother but I was given something so different and even better than I could have expected.
So to start, this book follows a girl named Elsa and her best and only friend in the entire world is her Grandmother. Her Grandmother has always told her these fairytales about the world of the Land of Almost Awake and when her grandmother dies in the beginning she sends Elsa on a quest where she finds out that maybe everything her grandmother told her has been true.
The thing I love about this book is the way you learn in it. Elsa is only 8 years old, so while she is a very smart 8 year old, she doesn’t know a lot of things. So this book is a journey. Eventually it all comes completely full circle and I think the way it was done was so so so well handled.
I loved the inclusion of the fairytale land in this story. While I think the story itself packs a really intense emotional punch and covers so many important topics, ranging from the relationship between a parent and a child, but also the bond that a grandparent has with a grandchild, there was really no need to add the fairytale element. This story could have been told without it and I am SO glad it wasn’t. I just adored the fairytale element and the way that the story incorporated it into the “real world.” It gave a sense of magical realism to this story that I think was the nice comedic relief that the story needed.
However, while I loved the plot the characters really are what made this book for me.
I loved them all (all except 2 actually but I won’t get into them, they’re obvious when you read it). They were all so complex and distinct and done so in a way that only a child could have made distinct. The book is written by an adult, but he writes the mind of children so well. I felt like I was seeing the world and learning about the world honestly through a children’s eye. She sees people and described people in a way that I felt on a child could have. In that regards this book was really really well done. The adults were really realistic and flawed in a way that I found beautiful, being criticized the way only a child could criticize. Each adult was distinct with their own personality and every character is important in this story, it leaves no one behind. It’s like a really confusing family drama because of the setting of this story.
I will probably expand on specific examples and instances in the book about the certain things I liked in my YouTube review, so make sure you go to the bottom of my page and find my channel to see it. But I think this was a good explanation of what I loved about this book. As for dislikes, there were none! So I honestly recommend this because it was such a heartbreaking book but done so in a really heartwarming way!