Beartown by Fredrik Backman
eBook review copy; 432 pages
Beartown by Fredrik Backman is a very highly recommended novel that follows a wildly varied group of citizens from a small
Swedish town obsessed with hockey - but it is about so much more
than that. Beartown is a must-read exceptional novel that I predict will resonate with readers for a long time.
This incredible, profound book is sure to be a contender
for my list of top ten novels for 2017. I'll totally admit that,
during the first part of Beartown, I wasn't so thrilled with
the novel, thinking it was going to be exclusively a hockey story
about a down-on-their luck small town with a winning team in the big
tournament. I love Backman's writing, though, so I continued
reading. Then it became about so much more than hockey and stole my
heart and mind. So my first piece of advice is to keep reading even
if you aren't a hockey fan.
"Beartown's real traditional sports: shame and silence."
Beartown is a small dying town slowly being taken over by the
surrounding forest. The whole town is consumed by hockey and the
junior ice hockey team that is about to compete in the national
semi-finals. These boys actually have a chance at winning, which
could change the luck of the whole town. The team has several great
players, but is lead by an exceptional player, Kevin, and his best
friend, Benji, who is fearless in assisting him. After winning the
semi-final, the teenage boys have a party and an incident at the
party changes everything. Soon the town is tearing itself apart,
taking sides, and making moral choices.
Bachman has a rich cast of characters that populate Beartown - and
the town itself is a character. His
characters are distinct individuals with strengths and weaknesses -
all of his characters. When you are done reading you will know these
people. While many are influenced by the outspoken opinion of others,
there are a few who have the character to stand up for their own
opinions and for themselves. If you've ever grown up in a small town
(likely obsessed by football or basketball in the USA) you have lived in
this town and you know these people. And, of course, there is hockey
too, which becomes a character.
The writing is rich, masterful, and admirable. There are moments of
great failure and overwhelming compassion, scenes of desperate
cruelty and sly
humor, and people with a malicious bent and others with a quiet
wisdom. The empathetic narrative explores love, personal sacrifice,
and the vital importance of family and friendships. This exceptional
novel is part character study, part morality tale, part coming-of-age
story, part family drama, part redemptive tale and totally wonderful.
Just read this novel asap.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of