The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules, by Catharina Ingelman Sundberg (2012, 2014)

LittleOldLadyA group of five elderly folk rebel against the restrictions and cost-cutting measures imposed on them in the retirement home, and decide to embark on a life of crime. This book opens with such promise – 79-year-old Martha Andersson grips the handles of her walker and makes her way into the bank, checking out security as she waits her turn. Much fitter than she used to be as a result of illicit time in the gym, she makes an effort to seem feeble and nonthreatening. Little does the teller know what is about to unfold. This book, an international bestseller originally published in Swedish, caught my attention on the bookshelves at a nearby store, and I patiently waited for its arrival from my public library. I read it fairly quickly, but at nearly 400 pages it’s twice as long as it should be. The best part of this book is the premise. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t hold your attention for very long. It got better in the last half, but I expect most readers won’t get there. And with a rather silly ending, it’s not worth hanging in there. Perhaps it was the translation, but the writing is awkward and explains too much. I liked the characters and the overall plot, including the criminal development of the seniors. The social commentary on Western society’s declining treatment of seniors could have made this a more powerful satire; instead, it feels intrusive and forced, out of place in this criminal farce. I wonder if the author had been inspired by The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. If she was, she needed to spend a little more time on the idea, and working with a firmer editor. Perhaps it will make a better movie, if Adam Sandler gets a copy given to him.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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