What’s it all about?:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.
What did I think?:
I feel so blessed and lucky with the calibre of books that I’m reading at the moment, particularly in the past few months or so. I don’t think I’ve had so many five stars or read so many books in a short period of time that had such an emotional effect on me! Beartown was another one of those books and once again, thank you to my fellow bloggers, especially Janel @ Keeper of Pages and Eva @ Novel Deelights for convincing me it was the right time to pick it up and well…being told by them that I would be in trouble if I didn’t pick it up/love it! Luckily they know my taste all too well by now and I’m happy to announce that I absolutely adored it. In fact, some of the characters and events are still playing on my mind weeks after finishing it – that’s definitely the sign of a good book.
Fredrik Backman, author of Beartown.
I’ve read a few books by Fredrik Backman now and was even lucky enough to interview him (if you’re interested, read that interview HERE) but I have to admit, I’ve been holding off on reading this book because I heard it was quite heavily focused on ice hockey. Now I’m not a sports hater but I don’t really enjoy reading about it, I find it a bit dull when the narrative revolves around how a team shoots and scores a goal. Not my cup of tea. Then I was mollified by other reviews I read which promised that it wasn’t all about the sport and they were absolutely right. Yes, it’s about a small town that are passionately obsessed with ice hockey and yes, the story follows the Beartown ice hockey team as the compete in the national championships but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about how the characters of a small town cope when an event occurs that threatens the sanctity and reputation of their ice hockey team and as a result, their precious final. It’s about relationships between family members and how relationships differ depending on the type of family you have. It’s also about secrets, betrayal, friendships and how these are tested after life-altering events especially when one member of the friendship can never be seen the same way again.
Ice hockey, the passion of Beartown.
As you might be able to imagine, this is another of those books where I can’t say too much but I just want to re-iterate how wonderful it is and how strongly I feel, particularly about its characters. The amazing thing about Fredrik Backman as an author is his ability to create a whole host of very different individuals that all feel perfectly rounded and unique and get your emotions going in different ways because of their actions (or indeed, their REACTIONS). We have youngsters like Maya, Ana, Kevin, Benji and Amat and the adults – Peter, Kira, Ramona, David, Kune, a sheer multitude of different personalities to get to grips with but once you’ve got “who is who” under your belt, you really begin to reap the rewards of all their little quirks and idiosyncrasies. They all got under my skin in some shape or form, I was irritated by some, repelled by others and protective and heart-broken by a few more. Backman has such a fantastic way of making you care deeply about each one of them, even if this is in a negative way, because he has a beautiful gift for making them so authentic and believable.
As you might have already guessed, this novel does stray into more gritty, difficult subject areas but because this is such a character driven novel, it never becomes overly graphic or gratuitous. In fact, I feel like this is probably one of the novels closest to literary fiction that Backman has done (that I’ve read) so far in his career and as always, I welcome his unique way of creating unforgettable characters and worlds that will linger in my memory for a long time after I finish reading.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):