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.
This is the story of Beartown – a town where hockey is a religion and their favorite hockey stars are worshipped like a deity. This is also a story of every town and every city where conflicts arise and sides are picked.
“So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe—comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.”
Beartown is a small town. Families know each other, kids go to the same school their fathers and mothers went to. They have collective hopes and collective disappointments. Their frustrations too are shared. There is only one ray of hope – Kevin Erdahl. Bang Bang Bang. Kevin is the rising star, he has the ability to turn around this town, bring back investors, and hopefully, eventually, jobs. Bang Bang Bang. Kevin is a ice-hockey star – the lead scorer – the heartthrob. Kevin can do no wrong. Bang Bang Bang.
But what if all this is a ruse?
What if Kevin is the criminal like that girl says he is? What if? This is not a thriller. This is a story of life, of conflict, of picking sides, of doing the right thing when the world is ready and set to prove you wrong. It is a story of a girl and boy. It is a story of a father and a mother. It is a story so multi-layered and multi-faceted that you forget that you are reading a book. Bang.
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. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.
Yes, this is the book that you must read. And then buy a few more copies and gift it your friends. They will thank you. As for me, I will read anything and everything this man writes.
I can’t recommend this book enough.
Have you read Beartown or any other Fredrik Backman’s books? Which one should I pick up next? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.