Review: The Winners by Fredrik Backman

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?




My Thoughts:

I didn’t think the Beartown series needed a third book, however, author Fredrik Backman gives fans of his beloved series an equally  heart-warming and heart-wrenching finale.  From the ominous opening, through the continued promise of something big—both stated and implied—and the shocking culmination, I was hooked.

All the characters that we loved and despised are present, and there are new characters presented from the rival town of Hed.  Loves are rekindled.  Friendships are renewed.  New lives enter the tiny, forest communities and lives are lost.  The winners is a rather long book because of the wide cast of characters, and it takes some weaving for all those characters’ storylines to intertwine into the perfect tapestry that is this series end.

Matteo is a character that I felt I should remember from prior books, and like his invisibility to people in Beartown and Hed, I cannot remember him at all!  He is, however, key to the story.  He is a bit like Shakespeare’s Puck in that he is an instigator, but unlike the seemingly playful mischievousness of Puck, Matteo’s actions are vengeful and catastrophic. 

The Winners is more about politics and adults trying to game the system than it was about small-town hockey.  I enjoyed seeing some favorite characters again, and falling in love with who Bobo and Benji have become, but as with most youth sports programs, the adult shenanigans sucked the joy out of the game.  It was easy to emphasize with the parents’ concern and frustration as well as to hate the politicians and people trying to make money off the leagues.  Was it interesting to see the characters’ future? Yes.  Was it sadly realistic to see the behind-the-scenes politics?  Yes.  Was it tragic to see the injustices that occur to the “invisibles” that loosely orbit small-town sports heroes? Yes.  Is it worth the read?  Yes.  It is thought-provoking and filled with messages of family, belonging and community.


About the Author: Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

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