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This is the story of one young person putting the barrel of a shotgun to the head of another young person. It's the story of how big dreams die hard and little, more tender dreams die even harder. This is not your usual Fredrik Backman book; it has none of the fanciful tenderness, the sentimentality. It's a hard-hitting look at what a town, what its people, what its children will do when the worst happens and you realize you are alone, just you and your ability to look your children in the face saying, "I couldn't protect you", you and your ability to look in the mirror saying, "What does it mean to be human?"
I expected more of a "Miracle on Ice" component but I was sorely wrong and quite happy about it. Backman takes the love of parents, friends, siblings and piles it on; takes the tension and ratchets it up, notch by painful notch until you have nothing to do but look inside yourself and wonder if you can stand any more pain, any more human frailty, any more doubt when there are so many, many shades of gray.
Marin Ireland has a brittle tone, and I wondered why a male narrator wasn't gotten until I realized that the many female characters wouldn't have been done justice to. Ireland gets it right, plus she does male characters quite well. What's more: She doesn't stilt on the passion, and this is a passionate story.
If you're ready for a journey into the heart, mind, soul of a teenager get ready and dive in. If you're ready for a slap in the face, the realization that you'll do anything, anything for your children but be able to keep them safe, tip your toes in and go gently, inhaling as much as possible.
Backman's prose, his story, his style are breathtaking.
73 of 80 people found this review helpful
I had enjoyed Backman's "A Man Called Ove." I did not like Britt-Marie was here, but took a chance on Beartown partly because of the subject (hockey) and partly on a strong rec from a friend. Well, I'm glad I did! This novel eventually drew me into its world in a way that rarely happens.This takes place in a rural part of a Scandinavia. They never specify the country, and it is written so that one can easily see it as occurring in rural Canada, or maybe Minnesota or North Dakota. Until "kroner" was mentioned, I was thinking this could be in North America. I guess it shows how similar a hockey culture can be in different countries.The first half of this book focuses on the game of hockey (a great game) and the hockey/jock culture (not a good thing) in this hockey crazy town. The "boys will be boys" mentality and star idolization result in an act of violence that rips this community apart. I loved this novel, in spite of its flaws. The biggest flaw was the fact that little happened over the first half of the book, The fact that I love hockey kept me interested enough. After initial confusion with so many characters, I finally got to know them all, and care about the people and this small town. An underdog junior team is vying for a national championship when a violent act turns things upside down. Heroism and bad behavior by adults and kids fill this fascinating novel. While maybe not for everyone, I really enjoyed this novel. I liked it even more than Ove! The narrator is great, and boosted this 4.5 star book up to a 5 star experience for me.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful