I was first drawn to Britt-Marie Was Here because I had heard nothing but praise for his Fredrik Backman’s previous novel entitled A Man Called Ove so when I stumbled across his latest book in my local Target, I had to pick it up. In this book, 63 year old Britt-Marie walks out on her husband and tries to begin a life for herself. However, given the financial crisis and her lacking skills, Britt-Marie finds herself employed at a dilapidated recreation center in Borg, a city struggling to stay afloat in these tough economic times. It is in this small town that she finds herself and learns all that she is capable of doing on her own when she cuts ties with someone who consistently made her feel small.
Initially, I was not very enamored with Britt-Marie’s character or with the motley crew of individuals that she encountered in Borg. For the first 50 pages of the novel, I couldn’t bring myself to empathize with Britt-Marie because, despite her trying circumstances, I found her mannerisms quite irritating. However, as the novel went on and Britt-Marie began to find herself, my heart warmed for her just as hers did for Borg (and soccer.)
What impressed me the most about this novel was how relatable all of the themes explored through Britt-Marie’s journey were. I honestly believe I learned just as much about myself while reading this novel as Britt-Marie did during her new life in Borg. Her fear of starting over so late in life complimented my current anxieties about navigating postgrad life. Moreover, her ability to love Kent despite his flaws honestly made me reconsider how I view my own personal relationships. Above all else, Britt-Marie’s story is empowering and demonstrates how a small corner of the universe can come to mean so much to a person and how one person’s actions can truly make a difference.
Overall, I was very impressed with Britt-Marie Was Here. Although it took me a while to warm up to, I am so grateful that I kept reading and went on this amazing journey that Backman created. His ability to make such beautifully flawed characters jump off the page is astounding and is what makes this novel so relatable. I definitely recommend this book, especially to those experiencing any sort of major transition in your own life because Britt-Marie’s story will reassure you that you, too can get through any trying time.
Let me know if the comments below your thoughts on this book, or any other books by Fredrik Backman that you’ve read!
4 out of 5 stars
“All marriages have their bad sides because all people have weaknesses. If you life with another human being you learn to handle these weaknesses in a variety of ways. For instance, you may take the view that weaknesses are a bit like heavy pieces of furniture, and based on this you must learn to clean around them. To maintain the illusion” -p. 116
“Sometimes its easier to go on living, not even knowing who you are, when at least you know precisely where you are while you go on not knowing.” -p. 125
“A human being may not choose her circumstance, but she does choose her action.”
“One remarkable thing about communities built along roads with that you can find just as many reasons for leaving them as excuses to make you stay.” -p. 309