Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – Book Details
TITLE – And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
AUTHOR – Fredrik Backman
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2015
PAGE COUNT – 76
MY RATING – 5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.31 of 5
What It Is About
“When a star fades it takes a long time for us to realize, as long as it takes for the last of its light to reach Earth. […] When a brain fades it takes a long time for the body to realize. The human body has a tremendous work ethic; it’s a mathematical masterpiece, it’ll keep working until the very last light.”
For those of you who’ve already read and loved Backman’s books before, this one is going to feel like going home. If you are new to this author – welcome! This novella is a perfect way to dip your toes in his work and see if it might be your thing.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer explores what happens when someone’s brain starts to shut down before the body. It follows an elderly man trying to come to terms with the fact that his memory is inevitably failing him.
We also follow his son and grandson who need to adjust to the new reality and find that thin line between caring and acceptance.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – My Review
“I know that the way home is getting longer and longer every morning. But I loved you because your brain, your world, was always bigger than everyone else’s. There’s still a lot of it left.”
Well. Here’s a book I know I will be rereading until it falls apart, and then get myself another copy.
Out of all Backman’s books I’ve read so far, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer definitely made me tear up most times. Which is pretty impressive, considering its size.
Backman’s letters to the reader at the beginning of some of his books I find equally impactful as the books themselves. In this one he said:
“This is a story about memories and about letting go. It’s a love letter and a slow farewell between a man and his grandson, and between a dad and his boy. […] It turned into a small tale of how I’m dealing slowly with losing the greatest minds I know, about missing someone who is still here, and how I wanted to explain it to my children.”
This is a fairly short novella but so full of wisdom and warmth and compassion and love. Let’s just say that narrowing down which quotes to put in this review was a bit of a nerve wracking experience.
And Every Morning… is a farewell of a man to this life, people he loves the most and even his memories. And I don’t think any one of us can truly understand how excruciatingly difficult it must be to say goodbye to yourself. To everything that made you – you.
“What do I say to Noah? How do I explain that I’m going to be leaving him even before I die?”
Grandpa feels the urgency to help his beloved grandson understand what’s going on and prepare him for the goodbye. However, with his fleeting memory and mental capacities that are getting progressively weaker, this task becomes harder and harder every day.
Luckily, grownups often underestimate children’s ability to empathize and get to the essence of things in an extraordinary way.
And Noahnoah, hesitantly but bravely and patiently, proves himself up to the task. He sometimes helps his grandfather navigate the hazy memories, other times just offers a companionship through the unknown, terrifying paths.
“And I don’t think you need to be scared of forgetting me,” the boy says.
“No. Because if you forget me then you’ll just get the chance to get to know me again. And you’ll like that, because I’m actually a pretty cool person to get to know.”
How do you help your loved ones with something that petrifies and demoralizes them, but is out of your control?
By being there for them. Holding their hand. Patently reminding. Letting them know they’ve earned their spot in your heart a long time ago and now they have it forever, no matter what.
The way Backman decided to tell this particular story, to show the forgetting person’s mind as a place that is getting smaller and smaller every day… Where some parts are completely ruined while others you no longer have access to…
It was just brilliant. Both poetic and accurate.
They never stopped arguing and they never slept apart; he spent an entire working life calculating probabilities and she was the most improbable person he ever met.
I also loved how much his late wife was still present in his brain. His whole life was so influenced by her that even now he has her voice in his head, and he still consults her about how to explain things to Noah or remember something important. Even when everything else is failing, she’s still there for him.
It’s so weird what stays in our brains until the very last moment. Like in the grandpa’s case – what little is left of his mind is filled with hyacinths. He may have even forgotten why they are so important, but he remembers that they are important.
“We lived an extraordinarily ordinary life.”
“An ordinarily extraordinary life.”
One of my favorite things about Backman’s books is that they are never just sad. They are filled with so much love and laughter and warmth and hope and life.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a story about how much we need people in our lives. How important family is. And how everything gets a little bit better when you don’t have to go through it alone.
I usually prefer long books to short stories and novellas, but I am so glad this tiny thing completely managed to melt me and pull on all my heartstrings. Even if it had been a full length novel, I don’t think it would be able to tell anything more than it already did on 80 or so pages.