Cover Image: Us Against You

Us Against You

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I think Backmans books just arent for me.  I really disliked Beartown and the same with this.  I cannot connect with his writing or stofytelling.
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If I had to pick one author who's made the most significant impact in literature in the past decade, I wouldn't have to think too hard because I think Fredrik Backman has taken the lit world by storm and hasn't let go yet.

Us Against You is Backman's second book in his Beartown series.  In that first book, a small, rural town became sharply divided after the rape of a girl by the leader of the town's hockey team.  Hockey is everything to this community.  Now, in Us Against You, the dust is still just settling from the shake-up in the first book, when the community learns that the hockey team will be disbanded and the many of the team's players now play for their biggest rival.

But Beartown hockey might be saved by a local business.  With the star players now playing for Hed, a new team has to be built and that falls on the new hockey coach  ... a woman who is not from Beartown.  She's a tough, no-nonsense woman with a knack for spotting, working with, and exploiting talent.  She'll make some very unpopular decisions in Beartown as she builds a team around Vidar - a local leather-jacket ruffian, Benji - a loner recently outed as gay, and Amat - a supremely fast player.

No one is too happy about having a woman coach (she must be a lesbian, right?) or the new leaders of the team, but what matters is - can they play?  And more importantly - can they beat Hed?

What Backman does supremely well is present human nature.  I can't think of any other writer who gets at the heart of what it means to be human the way that Backman does (okay ... maybe Shakespeare). In the previous book, Backman showed us the ugly side of human nature and I really didn't enjoy that quite as much.  Here he gives us a pretty good balance of some of the worst as well as some of the best of what humans can do or be.

There's also a nice message here, of 'just be yourself,' with some literal head-held-high moments in the face of adversity.

Backman's books are beautiful, and if you're prone to tears, you might want to have a box of tissues handy as you read through this.  And you should read through this.

Looking for a good book? Us Against You is another fantastic book by one of the best, most honest and forthright authors writing today - Fredrik Backman. You should read this book.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Small town sports are the glue that hold many communities together. In Us Against You, Backman returns to his Beartown hockey team to take the characters into new situations. As ever, the rivalry between Beartown and Hed focuses on hockey and the pranks and 'jokes' get out of hand. 

New coaches, new players, and old and new allegiances are strained to the breaking point and violence breaks out, permeating not only hockey but the towns' economies as well.
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It took me a long time to decide to read this sequel to Beartown because I loved the first book so much. But I should have trusted Fredrik Backman not to disappoint, and although this is not by any means an easy read, I was just as captivated by the characters and the setting. I cannot wait for what I am assuming will be the final entry in this ongoing story.
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I loved Beartown so was excited when the second in the series was available.

Mr. Backman did not disappoint and we learned more about Beartown, hockey and the characters we loved and were invested in.

You want to learn more about the characters as the story keeps moving in the way only Mr. Backman can.  Can’t wait for the final installment!
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Fredrik Backman has a voice like no other, and this follow up to Beartown is true to form. Intriguing and poignant, Backman takes readers back to the do or die town, where loyalty and rivalry make or break a person. The timing of Us Against You is impeccable, unfolding the triumph and hardship, the love and turmoil, just when it is needed. The depth of setting, character, and emotion that Backman has written into this novel is a rare find, and readers once again fall in love with those in this tiny forest town. 

SUMMARY: Us Against You picks up where Beartown leaves off, and dives into the aftermath of the winter that rocked the town to the bones. Summer is here, and the Beartown hockey club is being shut down. The best players have left to play on the rival team in Hed, and the sponsors have all abandoned the club. However, there is a last ditch effort to revive the team, and when it forms around  those who remain- Amat, Benji, and Vidar, the rivalry turns from playful to dangerous. Tensions grow and what unfolds changes the town forever.
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It's hard to compare this book to it's predecessor Beartown, which was a truly stunning book. I liked the opportunity to catch up with characters from the first book, but there was something missing from this one. It didn't quite live up to Beartown in terms of character development, but I'm still glad I was able to read it.
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Us Against You is the follow up to Backman's Beartown, about a declining small town with a love for hockey, but is on the brink of losing its most valuable hockey players to most prosperous neighboring towns.
It feels that after Beartown, this one truly wasn't necessary. It was interesting to revisit the characters and see what they were doing now, but not engaging enough that it merited a whole novel.
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Everything Fredrik Backman writes manages to turn me into an emotional mess (not that turning me into an emotional mess is a huge feat). He must have taken multiple psychology classes, because his understanding of human behavior and emotion is beyond that of most authors. Us Against You is no different than his other books - a beautiful, touching portrait of the human condition, it's flaws and its strengths - yet it manages to be knew every time. Does it get a bit too touchy/feely and unrealistic at times? Yes, but I don't care, because it works. It makes me feel all the things a book should make you feel - sad, happy, hopeful, scared - really all the emotions (on a side note, I'm wondering how many times I've used the word "emotions" in this short paragraph?). Just read it. Trust me.
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Loved this book book as a sequel to Beartown - Thank you for the opportunity to read. Will add more review details here shortly!
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I was a big fan of Beartown.  I was hesitant to read Us Against You for a long time.  Finally picking it up, I quickly found that I didn’t love it.   While Backman’s beautiful writing shone throughout the entire book, the storyline seemed to be lacking something.  Yes, there was emotion and fantastic characters but something still felt missing and a little forced.
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Fredrik Backman is amazing and has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books are just so beautifully written, and so very human. While I wasn't sure about Beartown needing a follow-up, I was immediately drawn back into this town's story. I love how the narrator is a part of the town, and helps bring you in and really understand what the people are feeling. This book was worthy successor to Beartown. You genuinely feel for all these characters and all their triumphs and falls. This was truly an emotional book and hit all the notes that made Beartown great, and then some. Once again Backman tackled a sensitive issue with honesty and feeling and it really added depth to this novel. I have loved every book I've read by Backman and this one did not disappoint.
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This book continues where Beartown left off and it deals with the aftermath of the events in that book. Beartown is still divided and a savvy, weaselly politician wants to manipulate the townsfolk in order to get his own way.
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This is the follow-up to his previous novel about the importance of a boy's ice hockey team to a small community. This novel explores the lengths that people will go to to protect and defend someone, even if they could be wrong in order to keep the team intact. It was surprisingly frustrating and not an easy, but a very good read.
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I love everything Fredrik Backman!! I was thrilled to return to Beartown and continue the story of the residents.
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Fredrik Backman has done it again!  I have to admit that whenever I see he has a new book I jump at the chance to read it.  He is a magician with words! His writing makes me feel so many emotions with each page I read.  It's hard to describe too much about this book because it's the second Beartown book.  I was nervous to dive back into this town and it's characters because I was afraid nothing could be better than Beartown.  I was wrong.  This book captured the same spirit and just continued to amaze me.  I loved watching the characters continue to develop and grow admist a new conflict.  I will not hesitate to pick up the third novel whenever it becomes available.

             * I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review *
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As much as I loved this book, it just couldn't capture the magic the same way Beartown did. Loved the premise and the characters new and old. So many blossomed and surprised me. The heart is so deeply involved in all of Backman's books. Heard a third and final installment is on its way. Woot Woot!
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Swedish author Fredrik Backman has a way with words, a fact he's proven time and again with his storytelling.  "Us Against You" is the sequel to "Beartown," a heart-tugging tale about the trials and tribulations of boys, and adults, who love ice hockey. The sequel picks up after a scandal rocks the Beartown residents.  I don't want to give away from the story, so I'll say that it's a must read. As is everything that Backman writes. This author finely tunes his characters to resonate with readers no matter how far away the setting may be. He captures the nuances and complexities of people, personalities and communities and presents it all in a compelling presentation that makes you want to read anything he writes. And I do, and so should you!
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I loved Beartown though I know a lot of people had a hard time with it because it is a tragic story. It's not easy reading and neither is its startling sequel, Us Against You. As you know, I deeply admire Fredrik Backman and Beartown was so different from what I was used to from him. I wasn't expecting a follow up because I was satisfied with how it ended. I realize now as I'm writing this why despite how heavy these books are, I love them so much. When people are put under the microscope and you keep zooming in closer, those people start to behave differently. The way they respond to the pressure is a glimpse into their personalities.


Same thing applies here in Us Against You where the story picks up a few weeks after a devastating crime that has run the accused and shamed hockey captain out of town and his accuser is left behind to face the town's wrath. Beartown is on the brink of implosion. It doesn't happen immediately. Instead Backman methodically demonstrates how each of Beartown's citizens are reacting to and are affected by the upheaval of their hockey team's demise. It's not just about hockey, but about what it represents to this town and how its identity and economy are closely entwined with its success. 


I was hyper aware of how fragmented the story is this time and admittedly it makes it slightly tougher to a reading groove so to speak. It jumps from one character to the next quickly as he sets up the story which requires patience as he leads to something big. He also introduces a new character who felt rather abstract  and sinister to me. The whole point of him is to prey on people's weaknesses and fears and spur on action. 


As an entire piece, I liked Us Against You. However, it did take me a while to finish it because the story is choppier and it is sad. Everyone involved is going through massive life changes and reeling from the reverberating effects of what happened to a few if its own. What kept me going is Backman's insight into human nature. He's able to pick apart and analyze things and know the truth of them. It's how I felt when I first read his debut, A Man Called Ove. I believe I said then that he's somehow able to put into words emotions that I myself hard to describe, and he does so in a way that makes them accessible. Us Against You might present an ugly side of people whose flaws we can easily recognize in ourselves, but there's also a glimmer of hope somewhere in there and it's that that I latch onto. Backman is a brilliant storyteller, sincere, vulnerable and honest in every word he writes.


~ Bel
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I really loved Beartown and couldn't wait to read Fredrik Backman's next book in the trilogy, but sadly, it didn't capture my emotions like Beartown did. I'm not sure if this is due to any faults on the author's part, but may be unavoidable simply because it is the middle book in a trilogy. Beartown felt like a complete book, but Us Against You is definitely not. The reader is left hanging at the end, after spending far too much time rehashing the events and feelings of the characters at the beginning. There are a lot of characters, along with awful, questionable decisions made by those characters, plenty of politics, and a lot of violence. Backman tells us early on that "by the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead" so we have a clue about what is coming, but he also employed plenty of misleading foreshadowing that I just found irritating. 

This book took me almost two months to finish, simply because I had to force myself to read it. I think that I'll probably read the last book in the series when it is published, if only to find out what happens. I wish I had waited to read this second book until the third was also available; then it might not have suffered so much from "middle book syndrome". To be honest, I'm not sure this book added anything, and may even have taken away from the beauty I found in Beartown.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book.
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