Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating ✰5✰
Picture and quote from Goodreads
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 felt like a slow book. Not much happened for s while. And then a lot of stuff happened. A girl was assaulted and we watched as the town chose a side and stuck with their choice no matter what else came to light. This is a heartbreaking story about how a girl has so much taken from her and then takes some of her power back. I love the wrap up we got in the last chapter or two telling us how everyone was 10 years later, but it does make me question what the sequel can bring to the table. This felt nicely wrapped up. A form of justice was served even if it wasn’t what should have happened. Even if everyone chose a side and made sure nothing could be done that was right in the aftermath.
I love Fredrik Backman’s writing. I love the way his words weave together to make a story I can’t help but be caught up in. I love his writing on a sentence by sentence level as well as the way they form together to make a story about characters that I hate, but can’t stop reading about. The small town atmosphere and realistic characters were crafted so well I had no problem visualizing them as I read.
I appreciated how realistically the aftermath of the rape was handled. The subtle touches the author brought to our attention. They refused to use Maya’s name when they spoke about her, called her the young woman instead and Kevin was the boy though he was older than Maya. It was a hard read, knowing how it was going to work out for Maya and for Kevin. I cried so many tears reading this book, but usually not for the characters I expected.
I hate to say I enjoyed reading a book about rape, but I loved the writing and I didn’t want to stop reading the story. I am apprehensive, but excited to see what the second book has to offer.