And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
By Fredrik Backman
Atria Books, 2016
Noah and Grandpa go on an adventure together, but soon Noah realizes that things aren’t how they seem. Grandpa is giving him a glimpse inside his mind, an abstract place that only this child who is so much like him can appreciate. Trapped in a downward spiral of memories that are pulling away from him one at a time, Grandpa feels frustration, fear, sadness, and regret. But Noah will stick with him and ease his way through everything, all the way to the end.
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Short enough to be read in one sitting, this novella is not for the faint of heart. It is emotional and bittersweet, with an ending that is both heartbreaking and endearing at the same time. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it. There are so many themes that intertwine. It is, in essence, an attempt to describe what is going on in the mind of an elderly person who is losing their memories, and therefore part of their identity, and the emotions and difficulties that go along with that. It is frightening to imagine yourself in that position as you read, but it is a reality that could happen to any of us.
But even more than what is going on with Grandpa, what lends the reader hope is the theme of taking care of people that overshadows his condition, and the fact that sometimes kids understand more than we think they do about tough or sensitive issues. Noah is a huge comfort to his Grandpa as he declines, all the way to the end of his life. The relationships between Noah, his father, and Grandpa are complicated and highlight the importance of accepting family members that are difficult to relate to, and encouraging interests that are different from your own. Taking the time to do those things will prevent a huge amount of regret in later years.
Full of striking metaphors and descriptions, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a thought provoking read and relevant to people of all ages. It’s not something that I would want to read all the time, but it is definitely worth the 2-3 hours it takes to read it once.