Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman (2014, 2016)

Britt-Marie Was HereFrom the author of the delightful A Man Called Ove comes a quirky, sweet and heart-breaking story of a woman at odds with the world. Britt-Marie is 63 years old, and after 40 years of trying to make a happy home with her distant and cheating husband Kent, she has walked out. She needs work, but with few skills other than cleaning, she ends up taking the job of caretaker of a recreation centre doomed to close in the declining community of Borg. Confronted by dirty handprints, muddy floors, noisy children playing soccer badly in the parking lot, and an apparent community-wide disregard for any sort of order, Britt-Marie retreats into familiar territory. She cleans. She scours and scrubs, she sets out dinner for herself and the resident rat at precisely six o’clock, and she finds a place for her balcony box. Her abrasive personality (Kent always says she lacks social skills and has no sense of humour) is no match for the residents of Borg, however, who have learned to accept and forgive, else they would have no friends at all. Despite her deep longing for home, Britt-Marie slowly finds her place in Borg, including somehow the role of coach for the rag-tag soccer team. Translated from the Swedish once again by Henning Koch, Backman’s writing offers a multi-layered, deeply affecting story that reveals the complexities of human relationships and desires that are as strong and valid at 63 as they are at 10 or 20. This beautifully written story is touching, wacky, occasionally painful, but always honest. Fans of Harold Fry and Allan Karlsson will delight in getting to know Britt-Marie. A companion novel to Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, it is easily read on its own. My thanks to publisher Atria Books for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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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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