Grandparents are the greatest treasure in a family’s lineage. Filled with countless stories, long-held traditions, and cherished life lessons, our favorite elderly figures hold a special place in both life and literature. While we carry our grandparents’ tales with us through our days, we can also learn a great deal about life through fictional book grandparents. Here are seven heartwarming and insightful adored stories about beloved grandparents to remind us of their lasting impressions.
Seven-year-old Elsa’s best and only friend is her loud, crazy, imaginative, and tumultuous grandmother. Elsa’s out-of-the-ordinary antics find refuge each night in her grandmother’s stories, set in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different, and nobody needs to be normal. But when Elsa’s grandmother dies, her life is completely shattered. With her grandmother’s departure also go her wildly immersive stories. But what grandmother has left behind is a series of apology letters addressed to everyone she has wronged. And now, Elsa’s adventure truly begins as she follows her grandmother’s instructions and attempts to clear her name. Between coming to terms with death and grappling with the fears of living, Elsa learns one very important lesson from her grandmother: It’s okay to be different—in fact, our differences should be celebrated.
A charming, warmhearted novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller A Man Called Ove.
Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.
Living in poverty along the coast of Mississippi, thirteen-year-old Jojo serves as the caretaker to his toddler sister, Kayla. His absent White father has been in jail and his irresponsible Black mother, Leonie, has a history with drugs. The only fatherly figure for Jojo to rely on is his grandfather, Pop, who taught Jojo the importance of love, compassion, and survival. The relationship between Jojo and Pop is sure to tug on your heartstrings, as Jojo navigates his place in his family legacy and learns what it truly means to be a man. When Jojo's father is released from prison, Leonie packs the kids up and makes way across the state as danger, destruction, and the truth about Leonie's family unfolds.
WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A finalist for the Kirkus Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and a New York Times bestseller, this majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi, is a “tour de force” (O, The Oprah Magazine) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.
Jesmyn Ward’s historic second National Book Award–winner is “perfectly poised for the moment” (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. “Ward’s writing throbs with life, grief, and love… this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it” (Buzzfeed).
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.
His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
Rich with Ward’s distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic and unforgettable family story and “an odyssey through rural Mississippi’s past and present” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
At just three years old, Ruth Saunders survives a car crash that has taken the lives of both her parents. Following this traumatic accident, Ruth’s eccentric grandmother leaves her retirement home to nurture and care for Ruth as she grows up without a parent. As Ruth’s life unfolds and she begins to follow her dreams of becoming a Hollywood writer, her grandmother is in tow through it all. As Ruth struggles through the upheaval of Hollywood life, her big break might just push her to her breaking point. But readers can rest assured that Ruth’s beloved and selfless grandmother remains by her side. After all, isn’t that what grandparents are for?
Blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner returns with an irresistible story about a young woman trying to make it in Hollywood…
At three years old, Ruth Saunders miraculously survives the car crash that takes her parents’ lives on the icy Massachusetts Turnpike. Her eccentric grandmother, who comes out of Florida retirement to care for young Ruth, nurtures her through years of surgeries, feeding her home-cooked meals, dispensing irreverent wisdom, and telling Ruth she’s beautiful, even though her scars will stay with her forever.
After college, Ruth pursues her dream of writing to Hollywood, heading west with her grandmother in tow, hoping to make it big in the world of TV. After years of failure and a badly broken heart, Ruth gets The Call—her show has been green-lit.
But Ruth’s happy ending is only the beginning, as she struggles with how television gets made: terrified (and terrifying) executives and actresses with their eyes on bigger prizes than Ruthie’s show. Add in an unrequited crush on the man who has been her mentor. Add to that her grandmother’s impending nuptials, and Ruth’s big break might just break her.
A rollicking ride on the Hollywood roller coaster, The Next Best Thing is a heartfelt story about a young woman searching for her own happily-ever-after in the land where dreams come true.
Grandparents are the people who shape and mold their younger kin. Makeda Gee Florida Harris March is the proud matriarch and emotional anchor holding together a hardworking African American family living in 1950s Richmond, Virginia. Makeda has been blind since birth but has always dreamed in color. After her grandson, Gray, begins to visit the magical world of Makeda’s parlor, she reveals to him a secret—that she can remember visions from her dreams. As the duo’s bond strengthens, Gray realizes a connection between his grandmother’s visions and the life of an African queen described in the Bible. Prepare for a spiritual journey of the soul as collective memories are unwrapped and a sense of self is discovered in Makeda and Gray’s journey.
Six-year-old Sophia and her grandmother spend the summer on a tiny island off the Gulf of Finland, exploring the coastline and forest, forming an unbreakable companionship, and discussing deep matters of life and death. This compilation of twenty-two peaceful vignettes reminds readers about the pure discovery of natural magic in our world. As Sophia and her grandmother embrace seemingly insignificant moments in their life, their story paints a beautiful deep portrait of human connection.
This book is all of childhood, all of ocean-shore living, all of a kind of deep, straight, harsh weather - all in twenty-two little stories.
The greatest things about grandparents are the life lessons that remain long after they are gone. In Téa Obreht’s THE TIGER’S WIFE, Natalia, a young doctor, travels to a Balkan country on a mission at an orphanage by the sea. But while she is there, Natalia also confronts her own hurtful and personal mystery: her grandfather’s recent and inexplicable death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of, where he died alone. As a famed physician, her grandfather surely must have known that he was too ill to travel. Struck by grief and desperate to unravel her grandfather’s final decisions, Natalia turns to the stories he told her as a child. It is through these cherished narratives that Natalia finds the answers she’s looking for.
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.
FOLLOW YOUR HEART is a heartwarming novel that begins in the autumn of 1992, as an elderly Italian woman sits down to write a letter to her granddaughter, explaining her impending death. This collection of moving reflections is told from the perspective of someone nearing the end of her days. Through joys, sorrows, and regrets, the experiences of this grandmother all boil down to one important life lesson she hopes her granddaughter will value: Gather the courage to follow your heart.
This gem was a gift from a friend years ago when life was rough and it has always been dear to me. This bittersweet, heartwarming novel is a letter from an Italian grandmother urging her granddaughter in America not to make the same mistakes she did but to have courage and follow her heart.
Photo Credit: SeventyFour/iStock