Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

November 13, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman is a novel taking place in a small Swedish town who is trying to win a hockey tournament when a tragedy strikes. This is Mr. Backman’s second novel, the first A Man Called Ovewas critically acclaimed and even made into a motion picture.

  • 432 pages
  • Publisher:Atria Books
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1501160761

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My rating for Beartown4
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My wife got this book out of the library, and I accidentally picked it up. I recognized the name Fredrik Backman because we recently read his previous book, A Man Called Ove. I have to say I was a bit skeptic when reading the synopsis of Beartown, almost sounded like a feel-good Rocky type story – but the more I read, the more I realized it’s nothing like it.

The book is structured in a weird way, not a bad one, just different. The omniscient narrator tells the story by looking at, not through, various people in town. Each person gets their own paragraph, or paragraphs in the same chapter.

While it took me awhile to get into the book, about one third of the way in it was difficult to put down. This is a character driven story, you know something bad is going to happen from the first few pages, you just don’t know when, how or to who and you just keep on reading to find out.

The author manages to split the little town, a town which is about to lose everything and doesn’t know, or rather doesn’t want to admit, who is to blame. They start making up conspiracy theories to justify their own hypocrisy, knowing they have chosen the wrong side but can’t bring themselves to admit it.

I really enjoyed how the author weaves his story, with each person in a small town acting in their own, or their families, best interest. Some struggle from within, some feel righteous but all of them think they’re doing the right thing.

This is a tense and ugly story, but it sucks you in. The writing is riveting, a big kudos for Neil Smith, the translator who managed to pull this off.

Beartown is a very small community, deep in a Swedish forest with nothing going for it except a junior hockey team – the town’s pride and joy. The kids feel they are responsible for the entire town’s hope for a better future, they and their families are treated like superstars not only in high-school, but everywhere within the town’s border.

When a young girl has been violated the evening before a big game, the town suddenly finds itself being asked to take sides. The even causes many people to question themselves and their neighbors, many of whom they’ve known since they were born, share the same struggles and dreams.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I borrowed this book from the local library.
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