“Fans of Backman will not be disappointed. His work continues to amaze and captivate, enlighten and thrill.” —Shelf Awareness
A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that their town’s ice hockey club might 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 the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. But the arrival of a newcomer gives Beartown hockey a chance at a comeback.
Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a huge challenge, especially as the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute as the big game approaches.
By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.
Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 256 members
Beartown is a hockey town by a forest in Sweden, but that won’t tell you much unless you know what it means to be a hockey town where lives are dominated by the sport and the thought of losing the team is devastating to so many. In “Beartown”, Backman says: “Why does anyone care about hockey?...Because it tells stories. " Indeed it tells stories once again in this sequel. This town feels familiar - the place in the forest, this hockey town , a community of parents and children still reeling from what happened there a couple of months before, characters that I came to care about. I was anxious to know what has happened with them - Maya, Leo , Amat, Benji , Ramona and others. Beartown is about to lose its team and the resources will go to their rivals in the town of Hed. It’s a loss for the Five Uncles who sit at the bar each day and now won’t have anything to talk about . But for others, the pain and sadness is not because of hockey. It may seem that way at times but the pain that these characters are burdened with and the secrets they carry have more to do with life than with hockey. Leo is angry because he couldn’t protect his sister. Peter is devastated about his daughter but doesn’t really know how to show his love for his family and they are falling apart. Maya will forever be changed by what happened to her, silently breaking. Benji, the star hockey player and fighter is sad and angry over his dad and is keeping the secret of his true self. Ana, left by her mother and dealing with her alcoholic father on her own is a life saver to her best friend Maya. It’s a slow churn at first and I thought somewhat repetitive, not with “Beartown” but within this book itself. I was feeling a little disappointed, but then something changed. I was captivated once again by Backman’s talent as he moves from one character to the next, as he creates a suspense which had me waiting for something awful to happen. It’s so introspective as we become privy to the thoughts and feelings of so many characters, so in-depth for such a cast of characters. The simple phrases that depict profound thoughts on what unconditional parental love is, about the depth of friendship, about marriage and ambition, expectations, rivalry, loyalty, love and hate are stunning. It’s so hard to really understand how hate can give way to violence in the guise of a sport rivalry, and perhaps it’s something more. In spite of my early reservations, I have to give this 5 stars since the rest of the book more than makes up for the slow start. Backman remains one of my favorite writers. If you loved ”Beartown”, this is a must read. I received an advanced copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley.