And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella (Unabridged)
by Fredrik Backman
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The New York Times best-selling author of A Man Called Ove, My 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 good-bye, 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.
listen to this story. Just don’t expect to emerge untouched.
Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
My first introduction to Fredrick Backman’s work, and it was a doozy. For a little read (just over an hour in audio and under 100 pages) the moments shine brightly, even through tears. And you will cry during this story, whether or not you have experienced the gradual letting go of a loved one or not: it’s hard not to envision yourself as Noah, or even as Ted: caught between the moments with too much to consider and ask.
In short, the story is a delightful goodbye as Noah, a young boy, sits and chats with his grandfather who is nearing the end of his life, as his cognitive functions are ebbing away. Hoping to provide Noah with some comfort, although not quite always remembering why, Grandpa shares his love of mathematics with the boy, and the realization that infinity can always find some guidepost in mathematical theory. A rather odd reference, that quickly becomes all encompassing, providing a pathway that allows curiosity and not fear to take over.
A gentle and quiet sort of goodbye that is shaded in shared moments and remembrances, gentle laughter, shared jokes, and the sweet scent of hyacinth in the air. Where Ted comes to find solace in his father’s company, realizing that perhaps their shared love for his son Noah is enough to hold on to.
Narration from David Morse was perfectly suited to this story: as the moments quietly move from one to another to grab your attention and reveal their beauty: over-reaching for, or even over-emoting to any one emotion would have been tragic. Morse avoids all of those pitfalls, presenting Noah, Grandpa and Ted clearly and insets and moments with Grandma (long gone) and the ever-shrinking park are presented to show the beauty and complexity of the story without distortion.
Bring tissues, lots of tissues, for the story has moments that grab and squeeze the tears from you, even as the story itself is actually affirming life, letting go and honoring the love you shared. Providing a small framework for moving forward and letting go, even as that person is right there, in front of you, not remembering. Take an hour or two from your day – find a quiet space and listen to this story. Just don’t expect to emerge untouched.
I received an Audiobook copy of the title from Simon Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.