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.
Paperback, 432 pages
by Simon and Schuster
Being Canadian I know all about the hype around hockey, and even the junior tournaments are a big thing. What I wasn't expecting with Beartown was the direction this book would turn and ultimately mimic current events.
Going into this book knowing it was the first in a trilogy made much more sense as so many characters were introduced thereby producing a relatively slow plot for the first half. The slower pace made it easier to get to know the characters, their drive and ambitions along with the importance of hockey in this town called Beartown.
I am a new reader of Fredrik Backman, his writing style takes a bit of getting used to. I alternated with the audiobook because once I got to a certain place I had to keep on reading. The twist came, the emotions flowed, not just on the pages but within myself. And I was anxious to see what would happen.
Beartown is the story of family dynamics, obsession, friendships and power. I am glad that I have book 2 in this series, Us Against You that I can read before book 3, The Winners is released at the end of this month. I guess you could say that I am really late to this party, but I am glad to have arrived.
This book is part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge (#63) and I purchased it in anticipation of an author event next month here in southern Ontario