Fredrik Backman has quickly become one of my favourite authors and it is largely because of the Beartown series. I read this as a buddy read with a friend who had started reading it and said they wanted someone to talk about it with. I had it on my shelf so I said, give me a day or two to get caught up. We had 2-3 really good conversations about this book and the many hot topics it brings up.
It takes place in Beartown, a small town in Sweden, tucked into the forest. Beartown is a hockey town and there is a lot of pressure for the Beartown hockey team to do well. Some people might dismiss this book as just a hockey book, but make no mistake about it, it is so much more than that.
The first 80-100 pages were tough. There are a lot of characters in this book and I had a hard time trying to remember who everyone was and how they were all connected. However, if this is the case with you, I encourage you to stick with it because it is so, so worth it. I began to appreciate what Backman was doing. Introducing us to characters, their background, their way of thinking and some of their struggles so that we would understand the culture that had been created.
It takes a long time to create a certain culture and that background is needed to really understand that when tragedy does strike this small town and truths are revealed that it is even more difficult to go against that culture and to attempt creating a new culture.
We live this in so many ways in our world today so this book is very timely. The #MeToo movement, scandals in the church, scandals in professional sports teams, homophobia, xenophobia, and mysogyny. This book shows us how deep seeded a certain mentality can be. This book also shows us what it looks like when people face the fear, are brave enough to tell the truth, are willing to stand against hate and are also willing to live with the consequences.
This is a well written story that broke my heart and it will never be the same again. It's not a light read that's for sure. It's heavy, it's emotional, it's profound and thought provoking. There were so many lines and quotes that I had to sit with for a bit and I looked forward to reading the sequel Us Against You to be with the Beartown community again. That review coming soon. Until then, I highly, highly recommend this one.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛