Us Against You

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

{Thank you to Atria Books for a free copy of Us Against You.} I wasn't ready to let this one go! I love Backman and I love Beartown. The story picks right up from where we last saw all our fave bears (Benji! Sune! Ramona!) and I felt like I had never left in the first place. It was a beautiful story with plenty of quotes to mark and new characters to fall more in love with. If you loved Beartown, you're safe with this one.
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While I did read though this book pretty fast, my overarching question was why? Beartown was just stunning and to me, unexpected. I don't think this sequel was needed. I feel like I don't learn anything new about the characters or the town, other than people are the worst (which i already got from the first one). Backman's writing is great, and although the style is a little off-putting (lots of foreshadowing and deliberately making things vague) it is a quick read.
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I really enjoyed Beartown and I wanted to like Us Against You so much! But it was so hard to read! I do not care one iota about hockey politics and this book was so chock full of it that I could barely read it. The real story disappeared and that made me sad. I was so bored by most of this book and so disappointed. When we finally got back to the real story, I devoured it. I cried. So much. But it was such a trial to get there!!
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Backman style and thought provoking narrative that sets his books apart, and follows the same characters while providing a broader look at Beartown's residents which I enjoyed. I wasn't particularly fond of the violence that took place.
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The residents of a small town must fight their egos and their loyalties to get past one of the biggest scandals in generations. As their local hockey team, the town’s only saving grace, prepares for the new season, people find new friends and disregard old ones as they decide individually and as a community where to draw the line between right and wrong. In his sequel to his previous novel, Beartown, author Fredrik Backman brings back beloved characters and continues a heart-wrenching story in the slow to start but excellent book Us Against You.

At one time every resident of Beartown held up his or her head in pride. Some considered the town a backwaters place on the verge of extinction, but no one could doubt the level of talent in the town’s junior league hockey team. The team had a shot at the national title, until its star player, Kevin, got arrested the night of the game that would decide the team’s fate. Accused of rape, Kevin and his family left town and everyone who stayed behind chose a side.

Peter Andersson, the coach who alerted the police to Kevin’s alleged crime, gets ousted by the board, leaving the team scrabbling for answers. Some players get recruited by the team for the nearby town of Hed, and the boys are happy to go. They idolized Kevin and don’t know what to think of the accusations against him. By going to Hed, at least they still get to play hockey. On the ice, life is blissfully simple.

No one can stay on the ice forever, however, and off it the players have to face their families and one another. Beartown still has plenty of boys who want to represent it. The departure of some key players means others get to move up in the ranks, and it also means a new coach has the opportunity to train the boys. With a new season comes key games between Hed and Beartown, and the rivalry rises to a new level. Players from both teams start playing “pranks” that escalate in their audacity. It isn’t until a resident ends up dead, however, that parents and players alike realize that what started out as a game has played with every element of their lives.

Author Fredrik Backman brings back all the characters from the heartbreaking Beartown and continues their story in Us Against You. Backman’s writing style and his depth of characterization, once again, hit the mark dead on. With every book he writes, Backman hones his art to a razor-sharp point that allows him to tickle his readers or prick their hearts—sometimes within the same paragraph. He balances the points of view of several characters, allowing readers to understand motivations and decide for themselves who’s right and who’s wrong.

The only distraction in the book comes in the pacing in the first third that could have moved a little faster. Perhaps, because this is his first sequel, Backman wanted to handle his readers with as much care as he does his characters and story. One thing is for certain: if a reader hasn’t found Beartown yet, he or she will know exactly what happened in that story because Backman gives it to readers in this latest book albeit in abbreviated form. While revisiting the previous book helped bring back characters and memories, from a mechanical standpoint it also takes up space that could have been devoted to more of the current story.

In his winning, charming style, however, Backman makes even the extensive back story engaging. He draws such a realistic picture that his target audience will want to spend as much time with the characters as possible. For those who wondered how Peter, his family, and their friends have fared since the end of Beartown, the extra time in Us Against You is precious and welcomed. 

Also, in the greatest tribute to his talent, Backman doesn’t let the back story detract from the new tale he wants to tell. It’s just as appealing and surprising as his other books. Readers new to Backman’s work who choose to start with Us Against You should just be patient. It won’t be long before they get caught up in the characters and the story.

For diehard fans of Backman’s work, this is a must-read. I recommend all readers Bookmark Us Against You.
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Beartown is a hockey town.  Unfortunately, the local hockey team has recently suffered several misfortunes.  Their star player had been accused of raping a girl and he was not allowed to play in the big game at the end of the season.  He has moved out of town.  The coach along with several other players have changed allegiance and have gone to the neighboring town of Hed to play on the rival team.  

All of these things cause the tension in and between the two towns to escalate.  And with that, the future of the Beartown team is precarious.  A new female coach comes to town to take over the team.  She begins work with the players including Amat, the fastest player on the team and with Benji, the strong loner. Finally, she brings Vidar the troublemaker back to town to join the team.  

All of the practices and hype are in preparation for the big game against the neighboring rival, the team from Hed.  As the day of the game approaches, pranks become vicious and things get out of hand.  Hockey challenges not only the teams but also the residents.  One begins to wonder if in the end it will be hockey that will ruin one or both of their towns.

In this sequel to the first Beartown book, Backman brings back many of the characters from his first book.  So, as a reader, I became more intimate with those characters and also learned to know bits and pieces of the new characters.  Each of them is dealing with some sort of personal struggle of which I became a part.  And, for sure,  there are lots of struggles with most of them leading to unhappy and depressing consequences.  But with a Backman book the reader must put emotions aside and prevail along with the characters because the book is about both the best and the worst in people. 

It is about bullying, sexism and sexual identity, family, teams, politics, loyalty, hate, and even hockey.  Backman writes about real life and he doesn’t “sugar coat” the events or the characters.  His writing style is unique.  He not only narrates the events in the book but he gives a little bit of philosophy to accompany the incidents about which he is writing making his insights give meaning to the events.  I am looking forward to the reading the final book in this series to see where Backman takes Beartown and its hockey team and its residents. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.
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Earlier this month, Simon & Schuster's Atria imprint released US AGAINST YOU by Fredrik Backman; it is the sequel to Beartown, a book which has generated some lengthy discussions at our high school. The stories in both novels take place at a small town where hockey championships are truly a focus and "kids get raised with the philosophy 'the stats never lie.' Either you're the best, or you're everyone else." As the new novel opens, reverberations from a sexual assault by one of the key players are still being felt and there is talk of disbanding the team. "The idiots won't say it was Kevin who killed Beartown Ice Hockey, they'll say 'the scandal' killed the club. ... their real problem isn't that Kevin raped someone, but that Maya got raped. ... Women are always the problem in the men's world."

The story is classic Backman (he also wrote A Man Called Ove and others), with much empathy for those with less power and with anger against the bureaucracy: "it is divided in the way that all worlds are divided between people: between those who are listened to, and those you aren't" OR "sports are only sports until someone who doesn't give a damn about sports has something to gain from them, then sports suddenly become economics." Once again, Backman gives readers much to discuss in US AGAINST YOU which received a starred review from Library Journal.
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This book is the sequel to Fredrik Backman's best seller "Beartown." For maximum comprehension and pleasure, the books should be read in order. 

*****

Beartown is a cloistered village in the Swedish forest, where hockey is the local obsession. In the first book, Beartown's junior hockey team is on the cusp of winning a national championship when an allegation of rape scandalizes the town and rips the hockey team apart. People take sides, there's a great deal of victim-blaming, and some former friends become bitter enemies. Everyone in Beartown is anguished after the incident, partly because they lament the disruption to hockey, and partly because they have empathy for either the perpetrator or the victim. 

The second book, "Us Against You", picks up where the first book left off. Beartown's junior hockey team is in tatters, and most of its members are now playing for the rival town of Hed. The Beartown 'Bears' 🐻 and the Hed 'Bulls' 🐮 have always been bitter rivals, so this change in loyalties causes much strife. Moreover, many people blame the girl who was raped for the unhappy situation and frequently text her slurs like "Whore, Liar, Princess." 😫

Angry fans want the rape victim's family to leave town, and start a campaign of harassment - getting moving companies to call the house and deliver packing boxes to the front door. It seems like very few people, except for the victim's family and her best friend, understand (or care) that the girl was severely traumatized by the assault. Her younger brother, however, is furious and rebellious - always on the brink of starting a fight or a conflagration (literally).

To make matters worse, Beartown's city council has decided to withdraw financial support for hockey. The league's General Manager, Peter Andersson - who's devoted his life to the sport - doesn't know what to do. The remainder of the townsfolk also start to despair. The 'five old men' - who used to spend every day in the Bearskin Pub arguing about hockey - are emblematic of the town's misery. The elderly codgers now stay home, sad and talking to no one. 

Enter the town's savior, self-serving politician Richard Theo. Theo - whose every waking moment is spent scheming to gain power - has a plan to save Beartown hockey. The program involves getting foreign investors to salvage the town's failing factory AND sponsor the hockey league. Theo constantly lies and manipulates people to get what he wants, but he does manage to keep the hockey league in business. 

A female hockey coach named Elisabeth Zackell is hired, which is a shock to the men in town. Nevertheless, Zackell is a talented woman, and she assembles a team around several popular players who didn't defect to Hed: Amat - who's fast; Bobo - who's big; and Benji - who's tough. Zackell also wants teenager Vidar Rinnius -brother of Beartown hooligan Teemu Rinnius - to be the goalie. The problem is that Vidar, who has severe anger management problems, is in juvie jail. Against all odds, Vidar gets sprung - courtesy of Richard Theo - just so he can join the Bears. 

The Bears and the Bulls have some very contentious encounters, both on and off the rink. The result is that several people get beat up; a building burns down; and there's a deadly car accident. Also on the downside, an unhappy girl 'outs' a gay hockey player - which has terrible consequences for the young man. Hateful townsfolk send the boy cutting texts, like "Fag, Queer, Homo, and Poof".....and rival fans shout, "Fags. Whores. Rapists" at hockey games. 

The hockey situation also adversely affects the marriage of General Manager Peter Andersson and his lawyer wife Kira. For twenty years, Kira has put her ambitions on hold for Peter's career, and even now - when Peter's job is shaky - he once again asks his wife to 'wait until next year' to follow her dreams. (I was irritated with Peter, who's obtuse and selfish.)

The situation plays out as it will and some lessons are learned. 

One of my favorite characters is little 4 ½ -year-old Alicia, who practices hockey all day long and regularly runs away from preschool to practice her shots. This girl is a determined cutie. 🌺

Like the first book, this story demonstrates the cruel tendency to 'blame the victim.' Backman also exposes hypocrites who 'have nothing against homosexuals' but 'worry about the children.' These phonies also have a habit of pointing out that 'not everyone is as open-minded as they are.' Yeah right!! 😕👎

"Us Against You" has garnered very high praise from many readers but for me, it's just okay. I find it hard to believe that hockey is SO important to Beartown and Hed that almost every waking thought and action revolves around the game. In addition, the author does a lot of philosophizing, using hockey as a metaphor for life, and I found this to be overdone. 

Still, people who enjoyed the first book will probably like this one, and I'd recommend it to those readers. 

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Fredrik Backman), and the publisher (Atria Books) for a copy of the book.
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I struggled in the beginning because it seemed to be rehash of Beartown, and then suddenly I was completely caught up and read the second half in an afternoon.  What a brilliant story of complex emotions, conflict, bullying and loyalties.  I stuck with it initially because I was frustrated by Maya’s abandonment by everyone including her parents.  As the mother of a date-rape victim daughter I couldn’t imagine my daughter being left alone like that and then being blamed for getting raped.  It seemed to me that everyone had gotten lost in the contest and winning the game meant more than people.

This is my fifth book by Bachman and I think it’s probably his best.  I was angry at the parents and the way their children and teens were left to violently sort things out.  I don’t know what it’s like to live with such long dark days and I wondered how this story could have played out in Anaheim or Las Vegas. Politicians and business played everyone against each other, using the hot emotions of two local towns and teams fighting to win the high stakes of economic security.  I wondered if there would ever be that “triumph of the human spirit” moment and while it’s not a happy-ever-after ending, it’s a good and realistic one.
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Contemporary
Adult
This is my fifth review of a book by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman, and his second title in the Beartown trilogy. I loved the first book, about the devastating impact of a young hockey star’s sexual assault on a teenaged classmate. This sequel picks up where we left off in Beartown. The hockey club is in shambles – most of the players have left for another club and it looks like the team will be closing. A self-serving politician steps in and finagles a way for the Bears to stay alive. There’s a new coach too – a woman, which goes over in this sexist Swedish factory town like a pride festival in small-town Utah. Violence threatens to erupt on every page as Beartown’s residents cope with one humiliation after another. I really struggled to get into this book – it feels so dark, right from page one. Backman continues with his unflinching look at the citizens of this hardscrabble hockey town, shining his writer’s flashlight on incidents of intolerance, abuse, and addiction. But he also shows us love, acceptance, and strength, especially by those who are most often hurt by the actions of others. They keep getting hit, and keep getting up, making this ultimately a story of strength and resilience. The title is about hockey at its simplest, a backyard game or an NHL playoff. Two teams, us against you. The two teams are overtly Beartown and Hed, of course, but the binary metaphor applies in many ways – straights and gays, men and women, good and bad. Ultimately, Backman makes the point that a binary perspective is divisive, that diversity is strength, and that we need to prioritize forgiveness, of ourselves and others. Originally published last year in Swedish, it is powerfully translated again by Neil Smith, though I struggled more with the staccato pacing than I did with Beartown. There is a LOT of foreshadowing, too much for my liking. I also grew irritated with the meta-commentary (“This is a story about ….”; “This is not a story about ….”). Having said that, I do recommend it for those who have read the first book, and I will read the final one as well. Backman is a powerful writer, and I do so enjoy the journey when he is at the wheel, even if it sometimes takes me to places I don’t like to see. My thanks to Atria Books for the digital reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373463
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If you haven't read this book, go out right now and get "Beartown" by Fredrik Backman and get this book at the same time.  You will not be sorry.  

Beartown is a little rural community not nearly thriving - but they LOVE hockey.  When they play their rival Hed team, it's always the biggest game of the season.  It's too bad that there is always some controversy between the two towns that seems to threaten the two towns, their way of life, and the lives of their people.

Andersson is afraid their little A-Team will not exist this year due to the unfortunate events of the last season (Read Beartown!) Lucky for him, there is a local politician who would like to see Hockey continue in Beartown and will manipulate an entire community to see that happen.  I did not like Richard Theo - but he saved Hockey (and jobs)in Beartown. 

"Us Against You" is heart-wrenching! You can feel the pain in each character.  It seems everyone is going through something and you WILL identify with at least one of his characters.

I had several moments of near-heart attack in this book.  I genuinely don't want anything to happen to any (ok, most) of my friends in this book!  Backman did a good job of building the characters in the first novel and reminds us of what they are made of in this novel. I did find it a bit tedious, but trust me, it is necessary.

I just cannot explain how this will touch you.  Backman has the ability to introduce you to his friends and make them a part of your life too!
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5 Gut-Wrenching, Sock-it-to Me Stars!

Some of my favorite people, live in one of the most memorable of towns and they wear their hearts on their sleeves.  Most however, wear their hearts on their jerseys.  Their Hockey Jerseys that is.  They used to be all the same.  Then something happened.  Something bad.  And now Beartown and all of its residents are divided.  Now it’s Bear v. Bull: Beartown v. Hed.  And their hearts, as well as ours have been torn apart.  “Us Against You.”

Peter Andersson’s life has been defined by Hockey.  Being the GM of the Beartown team is all he knows.  Even though he and his family lost almost everything last year, hockey was the one thing he could count on, till now.  When he gets a second chance to save his team, Peter is relieved and then anxious, for nothing is as it seem.  Politics has invaded Beartown, the Hockey team and Peter’s life.  Which one is strong enough to survive? 

Beartown is a place where Hockey rules.  Always has, always will:
It’s a simple game, if you strip away all of the crap surrounding it and just keep the things that made us love it in the first place.  Everyone gets a stick.  Two nets. Two Teams.  “Us Against You.”  

For the last year, twelve year-old Leo Andersson has sat on the sidelines watching his family fall apart.  First Maya and now his parents. The time for sitting and watching is over.  Now is the time for action.

Maya and Ana are the best of friends.  As long as they have each other, they can survive anything.    

Beartown Hockey has received a new lease on life.  A new coach has taken over, a coach who wants the best players.  Players we know and love who have everything it takes to win and who love their town.  Benji, Amat, Bobo and Vidar (the new star goalie with a bad temper and a big heart).  Benji is now the Captain of the team and is responsible for everyone else.  Benji, whose pain is the most palpable.  Benji, whose story breaks me in two.  Amat is the fastest player on the ice, no one can catch him now, nor will they ever be able to.  Bobo loves hockey, but he loves his mother more and is the best son she could ever ask for. 

For the last year, I have carried so many of these characters with me.  Ramona (owner of the Bearskin Pub), Amat and Benji.  My Benji.  I just love him.  I have wanted and needed to know that he was ok every second of every day, wondering, worrying, waiting.  Reading both “Beartown” and “Us Against You,” I have felt Benji’s angst, fear and pain, it seeped in my veins and took over.  “Us Against You” made me feel a myriad of emotions.  It made me anxious - nerves endings completely raw, scared and sick to my stomach, and just a complete sobbing mess, many times over.  Fredrik Backman makes you feel that.  Time and again.  He makes you feel every single thing his characters are feeling (whether it’s “Ove,” “Britt-Marie” or my Benji).  To me, Benji and all of the other characters in this book are real.  I consider most of them my friends and in case it’s not obvious, my heart bleeds Bear.

“Us Against You” is the sequel to Fredrik Backman’s “Beartown” which was one of my top two reads of last year, with Backman being my absolute favorite author.  In order to get the full background into the characters, I suggest reading that book first.  Though this novel started out a little slow, it takes off soon enough and delivers in a way that only Backman can.  “Us Against You” is a sequel with heart and it stole mine immediately.  I look forward to it grabbing yours in exactly the same way.

A huge thank you to Ariele Friedman at Atria / Simon & Schuster for providing me  with an ARC of this novel to read and review.  You made my year!  Thank you also to NetGalley and the amazing Fredrik Backman.  I love your characters Mr. Backman.  Benji and Britt-Marie?  Well, I hold them both very close to my heart.  

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram on 3.18.18.  
*Will be published on Amazon on 6.5.18.
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Don't even think about reading this book without reading BEARTOWN. Yes, it can stand alone, but you will want to have had a front row seat for all the events that brings the story to US AGAINST YOU. US is the citizens of a town made up of "Trump voters." (my description) They're blue collar, hard drinking, gun-toting, and hockey-loving. The factory in town that employs almost everyone is closing. The star hockey players and coach are no longer with the team. The town is still reeling over the events in the first book. Things are not good. Then a prodigal son arrives. He was a nerd when he lived in Beartown. He didn't play hockey. Now he is back. He's politician. He has international connections. He's promising to make everything better....
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I had such high hopes for this book, but after the end of “Beartown”, I thought the story was over.  A finality, of sorts, was given for each main character and you knew in vague terms where each of their lives had ended up.  So when Fredrik Backman started this book on the tail end of the last, I was confused.  Is he not telling a story when we already know the end?  This was a strange diversion, akin to those movies where they show you the end first and then rewind to show how they got there.  Not a tactic I enjoy.  

There are a couple of new characters, and how they interact with the original cast, but I was not as invested in them or their oily maneuvers.  Maybe he piqued my interest in how they interacted, but not enough for me to give up on those that I knew, and each time they were the center, I wanted to skim to get back to what I considered the important parts.   

Beartown, an economically depressed town in the middle of nowhere, continues to struggle with both its people, and its hockey club.  This gritty town finds a way to come together when every force comes at them. With most of the previous year's team pulling up and moving over to their rival, Beartown does the unthinkable and hires a woman coach.  With her strange ways and three remaining players, she builds not only a team, but also a presence that is stronger than those who are trying to destroy it. 

This is a slower book.  If you had loved “Beartown”, you will not find the same anticipated drama in “Us Against You”, this is a slower meandering through the remaining parts of their lives kind of story.  Though I am not looking forward to it, I have read there will be a final book three to this story somewhere in the distant future.  I hope that Backman will bring back the passion and drama that had first brought me to this series, or at least put Beartown to rest.
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I've been so torn as to whether or not to write a review for this one or not-- but in celebration of release day, let's go for it! 

First things first: know that I am not ride-or-die for Backman. I really loved Beartown and liked his Christmas novella and was kind of thoroughly MEH about Ove (don't @ me, friends.). This one fell weirdly in between Beartown and Ove for me, and I think I'm still processing the what and the why (which is why I'd abstained from reviewing after finishing). 

The love: there's no doubt that Backman has an incredible way with words. His insight and his ability to write about the human condition is finely honed, and remarkable in its execution. Backman again pulls no punches on the hard issues, and I am so, so grateful to have a popular contemporary author shining the light this way. I've heard him called the Dickens of our time, and that review might well be right. The last 20% of this book was a solid win for me-- I didn't sob the way so many warned me I might, but I absolutely teared up and felt all the feels. It was an incredible wrap up to a story that I felt otherwise complicated feelings about. But the end? No complications there, it was spectacular. 

The not-so-love: The first 80% of this book just... didn't hook me. I'll remind you that SO MANY PEOPLE loved Ove (so if you were one of them, this review is not for you-- this is for the Ove skeptics!), but I felt absolutely the same way about Ove that I did about the structure of this novel. Solidly 'meh' about the first 3/4 of the book, enjoying the writing and objectively able to see that it is good, but not feeling that 'unputdownable' feeling that I need. I'd read a bit, enjoy it, set it down and then feel no compulsion to pick it back up. Backman's writing can sometimes be a bit distant for me, his third person often takes me *out* of connecting with the characters rather than drawing me in. I loved the same characters I'd loved in Beartown (Benji and Bobo especially)-- and recognized the potential for connection with so many of the "new" characters, but I didn't feel like I had enough time or story to truly connect with them. So much of this felt like me reading the news-- don't tell me about what happened, let me SEE it. Let me feel it! Now that I reflect, I think this is what happened with Ove, and I think it's what happened here, too. His style is of course the same as it was in Beartown, but I think I felt more compelled by the build-up in Beartown than in Us Against You, and for that reason, I struggled to stay engaged until the spectacular end. 

Now, let me reiterate. I still enjoyed this one, and would give that ending alone five stars. The rest of the book may have garnered more of a three (like, not love), and so, we land at a four overall. SO MANY PEOPLE love him without any sort of restrictions or parameters, and this will certainly be a breakaway hit for all of them-- and rightfully so. But if you're like me and live in Backman skepticism, know that this one is worth it, but it may take you a while to find your footing. I don't think I'll ever be a no-restrictions Backman fangirl, but his prowess with Beartown + Us Against You has certainly convinced me to always at least read whatever he comes out with next. 

Thank you to netgalley (and my generous bookish friends!) for the opportunity to read a pre-release copy!
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I find myself in the very odd position of highly recommending a book I didn’t particularly like. Fredrik Backman’s Us Against You is the sequel to a book called Beartown, and one of several that Backman has written since  his New York Times Bestseller A Man Called Ove came out. It’s about the struggle fought by the residents of Beartown to deal with the traumatic consequences of a rape committed by one of their own against one of their own, under the guise of hockey as their common language. It’s rough and blunt, full of profanity, examples of how poorly most people deal with difficult things, and about how about how we’re oftentimes worse when we get in crowds. But the truths it shares about human nature are so spot-on and evocatively written that one can’t help but say to one’s self: “Once again, Fredrik Backman has put his finger on the pulse of humanity!” So, if you don’t mind the profanity and rough dialogue like I did, you will love this book, especially at 30% off the cover price.

Big white letters "Us Against You" against the backdrop of a small town's bluish-purple night sky

What Is Us Against You About?
From Goodreads:

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach. Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute. As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.
a hockey player in a white and blue uniform pushes a puck across the ice, while a hockey player in a green and yellow uniform stumbles behind himIt sounds relatively benign and easy to understand, but it’s not, for a couple of reasons: 1) it’s told in a train-of-thought style, skipping around between the perspectives of several townspeople. There’s Maya, who’s recovering from an incident of rape that happened to her at the end of Beartown. There’s Peter, Maya’s dad and the coach of the hockey team, being led by a local politician with unknown motives, and then replaced by an out-of-town female coach. There’s Kira, Peter’s wife and Maya’s dad, who, like her husband, doesn’t know how to help Maya heal and is wrapped up in her own struggle of supporting her husband in his hockey identity while also trying to carve an identity of her own. There’s Benji, Ramona the Barkeeper, Ana the daughter of a drunkard and best friend of Maya, among others. 2)There is no one main character. This device, while brilliant on the one hand because it puts the truths Backman tells at center stage, makes it hard to connect with any one character, as most readers are wont to do.

But those truths! Here are a few:

“Fatima loved the people here because they didn’t try to pretend that the world was uncomplicated. Life is tough, it hurts, and people admitted that. But then they grinned and said: “What the h*? It’s supposed to be hard. Otherwise every bugger in the big cities would be able to do it!”

“Everyone wants to get paid, the only difference between us is the preferred currency.”

“What is a marriage if you take away the infatuation? A negotiation. Dear Lord, it’s hard enough for two people to agree what television programme to watch, let alone fashion an entire life together. Someone has to sacrifice something.”

“If you live with the same person for long enough, you often discover that although you may have had a hundred conflicts at the start of the relationship, in the end you only have one. You keep slipping into the same argument, albeit in different guises.”

“It’s hard to care about people. Exhausting, in fact, because empathy is a complicated thing. It requires us to accept that everyone else’s lives are also going on the whole time. We have no pause button for when everything gets too much for us to deal with, but then neither does anyone else.”

“Anyone who feels responsibility isn’t free…”

“A lack of respect is like sparks in a summer forest: if you don’t trample on them at once, the fire spreads until you find yourself surrounded.”

“Anxiety. It’s such a peculiar thing. Almost everyone knows that it feels like, yet none of us can describe it…. It’s an invisible ruler.”

Who Would Like Us Against You, And Why?
If you liked A Man Called Ove, you’ll probably like this book too, although it has a very different feel. It reminds me of many of John Steinbeck’s books, moody, stylized, and narrative heavy (little “action,” some dialogue, a lot of showing people living their lives).

What Is The Deal?
If you buy the audiobook from Audible (a service I HIGHLY recommend), you can get it for $20.95 (or 1 credit, if you’ve got the monthly subscription thing). That’s a good deal for an audio book, which often cost a minimum of $25.

Nutrition Facts, Anyone?:*
profanity (d*, f*, s*, h*, g*d*, f*g): 201

crude words (i.e., cock): 22

incidences of nudity: 1

incidences of cruelty: 2+

gay relationships: 1 (between an adult and a minor)

allusions to masturbation and petting: 2

positive relationships (formal and/or involving commitment, effort, love) or themes (hard work, love, trying to make people happy, charity): 3

negative relationships or themes: 6

 

Note: This post contains an affiliate link, which means I receive a small amount of money if you follow the deal link, at no extra cost to you. I only review and provide deals on books I think are worth reading.

*These numbers are not guaranteed to be accurate. In fact, please correct me if I’m wrong.
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This book was very good and yet another homerun, I loved continuing to read about Beartown and their willingness to come together when the very thing that brings them together is in danger. Fans of Backman's books will be sure to enjoy this novel too.
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Us Against You was the second part of Beartown where the reader gets the opportunity to dive a little further into the lives of those who live in Beartown. The writing was incredible and made me feel as if I was living in Beartown myself and experiencing all of this as one of their residents and friends.

In all honesty, I think I was on the verge of tears throughout most of this novel. Each time I put the book down I had to step back and process my emotions. With how well it was written I could have read it in a day but I took my time because I truly did not want it to end. 

The beginning of Us Against You does give a recap into what took place in part one but I HIGHLY recommend that you read Beartown first for so many reasons. It will give you the opportunity to fall in love with the people of Beartown and feel an emotional connection with each character.

Fredrik Backman did a wonderful job with both Beartown and Us Against You! I have not had the chance to read his other books but they are high on my TBR list. Although I do not think I could love anything as much as I loved this series.
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This is a book about a small town hockey team but please don't let that stop you from reading it.  I have stopped and read aloud poignant lines from this novel so many times that my husband keeps asking me if I'm sure that it's a book about hockey.  But it is.  But it also isn't.  

My soul ached for every character in this novel.  If you happen to pick this book up before you read Beartown, fear not because Fredrik goes even more in-depth into these flawed members of a town with only one thing in common.  Hockey.  But its just a game - it doesn't mean anything.  I didn't know that Beartown needed a sequel until a publishing agent reached out to me to offer an advanced copy and now I can't imagine the whole story without this postscript

Just a few of the quotes littering my Kindle:
"What does it take to be a good parent? Not much. Just Everything.  Absolutely everything."
"The best friends of our childhoods are the loves of our lives, and they break our hearts in worse ways."
"It's impossible to measure love, but that doesn't stop us coming up with new ways to try."
"Everyone wants to get paid the only difference between us is the preferred currency."
"Cynicism is simply a chemical reaction to too much disappointment."

Fredrik Backman's other novels (A Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie was Here and the heart-wrenching And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer) among them are some of my favorite all-time reads.  Now I am happily counting Us Against You in that list.
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A worthy sequel to fan favorite Beartown. I will happily hand this over to all Backman fans, and assure those who loved the first novel they'll be just as riveted with this hockey-story-that's-so-much-more.
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