Book Review | Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

“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 book is an incredibly powerful story about a small town in Sweden called ‘Beartown’ and this town thinks that hockey is the most important thing in the world. This is a book about family and community and love, but also heartache and tragedy, and as always I was blown away by how deep it got. There is a trigger warning for rape and suicide ideation

The book started off slow but I feel that it was imperative to the rest of the story. There are a lot of characters to introduce but during this build up you really get to know the characters and the small town dynamics. I felt so invested in these characters that as the events began to unfold I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I was crying and am now struggling to find the words to describe how I felt. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

This book is also full of diversity, from all ends of the spectrum. I’ve often felt authors have tried to hard to add in diverse characters but Backman has woven them in beautifully so that none of it feels forced or awkward. All these characters were lined with realism, so much so that I wouldn’t have been surprised if this story was based on real life.

As always, Backman’s writing is beautiful. There is nothing in this book that hasn’t been written before, but the way in which it was handled is unique especially and the subject matter is timely and necessary. He writes about sensitive topics with such dignity and grace, but is straight to the point as well which I appreciate.

Backman has written another outstanding, emotional, thought-provoking novel about so much more than a town and a game. I’m truly lost for words.

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