My review will follow after the publisher’s blurb
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.
As I’ve said before in previous reviews, I’m from a small Northern Ontario community. This community just so happens to be a small ex-mining town that was big on hockey. I have a family friend who played in the NHL, dated a few hockey players (ok, maybe more than a few) and spent way too many hours at the local arena. Yet, apart from the strong hockey presence in this novel, there is another real important portion of this novel that got my heart pounding — my chest wanted to explode, I needed to scream. But I’m not going to give that away, you’ll have to read the book.
What I clung to, page after page was the buildup of tension. You knew something was coming, you could feel it, and it was palpable. I was swept up and heading straight into an emotional rollercoaster.
Although the book is based in a hockey town, you really don’t have to know or even like hockey to thoroughly enjoy this book. Backman weaves the story through its characters and sheds light on hockey culture and gang mentality. I couldn’t help feeling that Beartown was making me chose a side and yet I could appreciate how each character was choosing theirs. Throughout the read, I’d ask myself time and time again: What would I do in that exact situation; where would my allegiance lie ?
Perhaps some readers may find it a tad slow, there is not an abundance of dialogue and the book is highly character driven. No matter, for me it was an amazing read. If anything, I feel there should be a trigger warning attached to the book. Perhaps leaving that aspect out of the blurb was intentional from the publisher, I don’t know. It just really hit close to home, a heads up would have been nice. I say this, but giving that away in the blurb destroys the punch of the book. I’m torn.
Beartown will definitely be on my top 5 books of the year. It’s a no-brainer. Backman is a storytelling virtuoso and has created the perfect storm within the pages of Beartown.
Go buy the book … it’s that good !
A review of Frederick Backman’s my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry can be found HERE
Beartown by Fredrick Backman
Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith