Most of the reviews I've read talk about the cost of the book and rate the book based on their feeling of getting ripped off by the price. They don't discuss the actual story, the writing, the message conveyed or anything else to do with the actual book though.
Is the book overpriced for its size? Sure, but I believe Amazon and every other online book store provides you with the details of the book prior to purchasing it. So it clearly says that the book is 65 pages long. If you thought it was too expensive for such a short book, there was no need to buy it in the first place.
I bought it and I read it in 30 minutes. It is a really short book, with illustrations inside that give it the feel of a children's fairytale - although it isn't one - perhaps more of an adult fable. The story is profound. It is painful and it is very true to Fredrik Backman, who does not shy away from any topic, no matter how difficult it is to read about.
The story plays out like a letter that a father is writing his son. It is an apology. It is a goodbye. It is sad and heartfelt and full of regret. In a span of very few pages, the father makes you hate him, love him, root for him and respect him. You can't begin to understand your own feelings towards this character, but he touches you somehow. He confesses that he's killed a girl. We're shocked. We don't get it. Is it a hit and run? Is he a doctor that made a surgical error? What's going on?
He talks about an older lady in a grey sweater. We sees glimpses of his past. We begin to understand a little more. We now know what this older lady represents. We expect one thing. Another happens.
His foreword at the beginning, in which he talks about the circumstances that led to writing this novella are just as good. Perhaps just as important to read. It really sets the scene for the whole story, and makes you think beyond the characters and into the writer's life, wondering if the story is in any way a reflection of feelings he's had or has been having, of conflicts he's been facing with his own family. Who knows?
65 pages - half of which are illustrations - but he still gets to me. Fredrik Backman is someone I love reading for, no matter how short the story, or how few the pages.