Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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☆☆➹⁀☆5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

 

What it’s about:

A profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

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.

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My Thoughts:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman starts with a damning scene that sets the stage for constant dread and leaves the reader watchful for clues as to the identity of the malevolent character in the opening scene, that you know will be readdressed at the story’s zenith.

From the start, I was overwhelmed with the hopeless desperation that has settled over the town and its inhabitants. The desolate Beartown has only junior-league hockey on which to pin its hopes and dreams. Subsequently, the town is filled with washed-up adults who dreamed of hockey stardom only to lose all their hope in local games lost as young teenagers. In the prime of their playing years, the boys are placed on pedestals. They are the local sports heroes. They are potentially the ones who will get out or make a name for the town.

In a small town, like Beartown, no one wants to be on the outside or shunned, so it is easier to remain silent and complacent about an obvious injustice or act of violence stemming from the entitlement of celebrity. There are many victims and many bullies in Beartown; no one, adult or child, is immune from the impact.

Mr. Backman weaves an intricate story set in a stark landscape and filled with interesting characters. He has peppered his novel with poignant social messages in a way that they are not preachy or overbearing. Beartown is a bit of departure from the author’s usual uplifting style; however, it is no less moving than his prior, more charming stories. It is equal parts an “age-old” and a “pulled from the headlines” story. I was enthralled from start to finish, and this book haunted me for days after I finished reading.

Fantastic narration by Marin Ireland

P.S. There is no need to like hockey or children in order to love this book.

 

 

© Copyright 2018 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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