Truthfully, I picked it out because I know Backman has become one of my mom’s favorite authors almost overnight. I read the cover and it said it was about the story of a father and son and father and grandson – who all were learning to let go. Obviously, I figured it would about the journey to accepting death and seeing as it was a novella I knew it would be the perfect book to kick off the summer reading season. Short, meaningful, and loving – make your heart warm as the sun warms your skin.
It took me an hour to read the first 11 pages and then I shut the book. Why? I was completely unprepared. As a person who lost an extremely important person to Alzheimer’s, those first 10 pages threw me for such an emotional loop that I shut it on page 11 and cried.
The first page of the foreword is even hard to get through.
I will admit, as I sit on page 11 I am not entirely sure I know what’s going on. But that doesn’t really matter. I’ve assumed they’re someplace in their imagination in a hospital room. But the dialogue from the grandson could also make it seem otherwise. I will say, however, that I am fully aware that “the square” is the man’s safe haven. It’s the last piece of his mind and that’s why it’s been so desperately filled with memories that don’t seem to belong in the square. This becomes even more clear when the memory of his wife appears and they share a very intimate moment – talking about memories and falling in love.
But I have to say, as touching and loving that moment was to read, it was not nearly as powerful or as full of love as his last words to his wife.
“How do I tell him I’ll be leaving him before I die?”
He repeats it, as if he thinks the answer will come eventually. And that hurt. I become a puddle.
Spoiler Alert: That’s page 10.
So, in 10 pages Backman has managed to rip open old wounds and reduce me to tears. I don’t know many books that can capture a person that quickly. And who knows, it may be because it is horrifyingly relatable to me. But it’s also really impressive writing.
With that said, I have now embarked on the road to acceptance with Noahnoah and his grandpa. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ll let you know if I ever make it to page 12.