And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

A Novella

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About The Book

A little book with a big heart!

“I read this beautifully imagined and moving novella in one sitting, utterly wowed, wanting to share it with everyone I know.” —Lisa Genova, bestselling author of Still Alice

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a round square that keeps getting smaller every day. Noah isn’t sure how they got there or how to get home. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the stuff that has made up their lives – Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her at all, much less the extraordinarily ordinary life they lived.

Sometimes Grandpa finds himself sitting on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father. Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dim and getting more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Grandpa has a very specific nickname for his grandson Noah. Did it surprise you that he also referred to his son Ted in a similar way? Did that change the way you thought about these relationships? Is there a deeper significance to this specific type of nickname?

2. Alzheimer’s is a disease that steals a person’s memories. It’s incredibly difficult for the person losing his or her past, but also for loved ones as they cease to be recognized or remembered. How does Grandfather try to help Noah prepare for the day he won’t remember him? Which character do you think has the more difficult path ahead?

3. Mathematics is a bonding experience for Noah and his grandfather. What is it about math that they find so appealing? How does Ted’s preference for words over numbers prevent him from connecting with his father? Do you think that the same thing will prevent Ted and Noah from forming a close relationship in the future? Why or why not?

4. The novella shows us multiple generations of a family interacting with each other. Do you believe that the behaviors of one generation are necessarily repeated in the ones that come after? How is Ted different from his father? How is Noah different from his? What makes some people repeat the same mistakes their parents made, while others are able to break free from the past?

5. Noah and his grandfather like to give each other “unnecessary” presents. What do you think these funny presents tell us about Noah and his grandfather’s relationship? How is their significance different from that of a more traditional present?

6. Even though Noah’s grandmother passed away before the start of the book, her presence is very much felt throughout the story. How do you think the story would have changed if she were still alive and an active participant in the story, a witness to her husband’s deteriorating mental state?

7. What was your favorite illustration in the book? Did the illustrations enhance your reading experience? Why or why not?

8. Why do you think Grandfather always asks Noah about school?

9. Goodbyes are very important to Noah. How do you think Grandfather prepared Noah to say goodbye?

10. When Noah says to his father, “The way home is getting longer and longer every morning now,” what does he mean? How do you interpret the title of the novella?

11. At the end of the book, we discover that time has moved on and Noah has a daughter. Why do you think it’s important that she is mentioned? Do you think it matters that she is like Ted and loves words instead of numbers? How did it make you feel when you realized she existed?

12. Forgiveness is hard, particularly with the passage of years. How do you think the presence of Noah enabled his father and grandfather to forgive each other? And what do you think they needed to forgive each other for?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. At the front of the novella, there is a letter to readers from Fredrik Backman in which he talks about imagination, love, and letting go. Read one of Backman’s earlier novels, A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, or Britt-Marie Was Here. Do you notice any parallels between the themes of this letter and the novel you chose? Share with your book club how the novel you picked reflects these themes. How are the characters in this novella similar and different from the ones in the novel you read?

2. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is filled with beautiful illustrations depicting some of the story’s most poignant moments. As an art project, pick a moment in the story you found particularly beautiful or powerful and depict it in a visual way. Share it with your book club. Why did you pick this moment? What medium did you use to depict it? Why?

3. Lisa Genova, bestselling author of Still Alice, said of the novella that she wanted to “share it with everyone . . . ” Illness and death are very difficult topics to talk about, and everyone handles them differently. Do you think a book like this would be helpful to someone facing the end of his or her life? What about someone who is grieving over the loss of a loved one? How do books sometimes make difficult conversations easier to start? Make a list of other novels you’ve read that offered memorable insights on this challenging subject. Do the same books appear on multiple lists, or does each person in your book club have her or his own unique books?

About The Author

Photograph © Linnéa Jonasson Bernholm/Appendix fotografi

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (November 2016)
  • Length: 96 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501160486

Raves and Reviews

“Winsome, bittersweet...Wise and heartbreaking, Backman’s slim novella celebrates the joy of connecting even in the midst of letting go.”

– People Magazine

“A novella to be savored and reread about a boy, his dad and his grandpa as they learn to say goodbye. It’s a little book with a big message."

– San Francisco Chronicle

"I read this beautifully imagined and moving novella in one sitting, utterly wowed, wanting to share it with everyone I know." 

– Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice

"Beautiful, dreamlike, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. Bring tissues. Bring all the tissues.”

– REALSIMPLE.COM

“The saddest, sweetest book ever... It is heartbreakingly sad, but also beautiful and uplifting in the end.”

– LaSalle News Tribune

PRAISE FOR A MAN CALLED OVE

“A charming debut…You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You’ll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything’s cuter.”

– People

“Even the most serious reader of fiction needs light relief, and for that afternoon when all you want is charm, this is the perfect book."

– San Francisco Chronicle

"A light hearted, deeply moving novel about a grumpy but loveable curmudgeon who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. This quirky debut is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the impact one life has on countless others—and an absolute delight."

– CBS Local

"An inspiring affirmation of love for life and acceptance of people for their essence and individual quirks. A Man Called Ove is a perfect selection for book clubs. It's well written and replete with universal concerns. It lacks violence and profanity, is life-affirming and relationship-driven. The book is bittersweet, tender, often wickedly humorous and almost certain to elicit tears. I contentedly wept my way through a box of tissues when I first read the novel and again when I savored it for a second time.”

– BookBrowse.com

"A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods."

– Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."

– Booklist, Starred Review

“A funny crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love… The author writes with winning charm.”

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers… hysterically funny… wry descriptions, excellent pacing… In the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden,generous heart.”

– Kirkus Reviews

PRAISE FOR MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE'S SORRY

“[…] Believable and fanciful. Backman’s smooth storytelling infuses his characters with charm and wit. . . Engaging. . . A delightful story.”

– St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Every bit as churlish but lovable as Backman’s cantankerous protagonist in his debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), precocious Elsa will easily work her way into the hearts of readers who like characters with spunk to spare. A delectable homage to the power of stories to comfort and heal, Backman’s tender tale of the touching relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter is a tribute to the everlasting bonds of deep family ties.

– Booklist (starred)

“Firmly in league with Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman. A touching, sometimes funny, often wise portrait of grief.”
 

– Kirkus Reviews

"In his second offering, Backman (A Man Called Ove) continues to write with the same whimsical charm and warm heart as in his debut."

– Publishers Weekly

"An eclectic cast of characters, fairy-tale wisdom, and a little mystery… one of our favorite novels of the year so far."

– SFGate.com

PRAISE FOR BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE

“The bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE returns with this heartwarming story about a woman rediscovering herself after personal crisis. Backman reveals Britt-Marie’s need for order….with clear, tight descriptions. Insightful and touching, this is a sweet and inspiring story about truth and transformation. Fans of Backman’s will find another winner in these pages.”

– Publishers Weekly

"Britt-Marie’s metamorphosis from cocoon to butterfly seems all the more remarkable for the utterly discouraging environment in which it takes place."

– Booklist

“A brilliant mix of belly-laughs, profound insight and captivating events delivered… with Backman's pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature."

– Shelf Awareness

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: Fredrik Backman