Beartown, by Fredrik Backman

I cannot believe I haven’t read this brilliant book before. I absolutely loved A Man Called Ove, and Brit-Marie Was Here, by the same author. This was for me a big book – as it says in the blurb, “In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world”. This book came alive for me and I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The ramifications of the scandal that hits the ice hockey-obsessed little town of Beartown reverberate through the lives of all its individuals, cliques and institutions. It tears people apart, throws others together, and makes everyone question their own ethics and morality. I found the book truly challenged me at times as well. It’s difficult to say any more about the story without spoilers. What I will say is that Backman really gets us. He understands human nature SO well, and is able to put it perfectly onto the page. He writes dialogue beautifully with never a false note – and his characters live on long afterwards. I will never forget the talented, big-hearted Benji, with all his faults – and his big secret. Nor Ramona, the hard-drinking, tough bar owner who manages to quietly control the ever-present simmering violence in those who frequent her establishment. A truly beautifully written book that I highly recommend.

Book blurb:

A dazzling, 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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