Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre/Themes: Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: April 25th 2017
Page Count: 412
Trigger Warnings: Rape
*Disclaimer: An ARC of Beartown by Frederik Backman was provided to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.
“When you lose in hockey it feels like having your heart scalded. When you win, you own the clouds. Beartown is a heavenly town this evening.”
Wow. Just wow. I have never read anything by Fredrik Backman before, but let me tell you, I definitely plan on picking up his other novels as soon as possible. Beartown is one of the best books I have read all year. It was unexpectedly dark, yet it dealt with these tough topics perfectly. I’m still thinking about this book more than a week after finishing it.
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 I Liked
The character driven story. I absolutely love character driven stories, even more so than plot driven stories. I loved that Beartown jumped back and forth between the perspectives of multiple characters throughout the entire novel. I love hearing a story from many points of view and while it can sometimes be confusing and hard to keep track of all the characters, Fredrik Backman masterfully made this story easy to follow. The characters were all phenomenally written and while there were a few characters I absolutely DESPISED, there were many that I kept wanting to read more about. Amat, Benji, Sune, Ramona, Maia & Ana were by far my favourite characters throughout the story and I couldn’t wait to learn more about each of them.
The writing. Fredrik Backman has most likely just become a favourite author of mine. I have literally only read Beartown, but I’m already thinking about ordering his other books ASAP. The writing is just phenomenal. As mentioned, I loved that Beartown was a very character driven story told from many perspectives and Fredrik Backman wrote it perfectly. It flowed so well considering the fact that it jumped from character to character constantly. There was just something about his writing style that makes me want to read everything he has ever written.
The hard hitting topics. Let me just preface this paragraph with a spoiler warning. This paragraph also calls for a trigger warning around the topic of rape. What started as a story about small-town hockey, turned into a much darker story about rape and white male privilege. I wasn’t expecting this story to go in the direction that it did as it turned out to be really hard-hitting and quite unexpectedly dark. A young teenaged girl is raped and while that was hard enough to read on its own, it was even harder to read about how some of the other characters dealt with the situation. I have never felt more disgusted in my life than when I read what some of the other male and female characters opinions were on the situation. What was most disgusting about all of it is that it isn’t far fetched. It isn’t unrealistic. This is all too common. Rich white boy with a promising future rapes someone and people come to his defence because they don’t want to see his career as a professional hockey player tarnished. It’s disgusting and completely unacceptable. Fredrik Backman writes about this terrible crime in a way that is sadly so realistic, but he also writes it in such a way that as a reader, we know that he is completely aware and understands that this is reality. That if this really happened, people would actually defend this scumbag. I was honestly completely blown away by the way Fredrik Backman wrote this story and how he was able to make me feel countless emotions while reading it.
What I Didn’t Like
A tad slow moving. The only little tiny minor thing that I didn’t like was the pace of the novel. Yes, it flowed well and I couldn’t put it down, but it did kind of take a while to get going. The first quarter or so was a little slow, but once the story picked up, it was all I could think about. As mentioned, this was a little tiny minor complaint. Otherwise, this story was flawless.
“There are thousands of ways to die in Beartown. Especially on the inside.”
I just can’t stop thinking about this book and the characters within. It was good and so well written. I need more. I can’t wait to dive further into the work of Fredrik Backman!
About The Author
Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.
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Thank you for reading!