REVIEW: BEARTOWN By Fredrik Backman

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Published April 25th By Simon & Schuster

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. It is a town that has lost everything except it’s love of hockey the junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals;  they actually have a chance to win.  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 teenager 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. 

******

When several of my fellow bloggers and one very good non-blogging reading friend, all whose opinions I very much trust, have raved about this book then I just had no choice but to see what all the fuss was about! I say fuss because I have very much resisted reading this book. You see, I’ve tried two of Backman’s other books…A Man Called Ove went into my Did Not Finish pile and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, which was a book club read, didn’t work on any level for me. Beartown, however, was like reading a book by a completely different author and I mean that as the highest compliment…this book was unputdownable and completely addictive!

What starts out, on the surface, as a book about a small town obsessed with hockey will, I promise you, turn into so much more. I’m going to be honest, the first half of the book is what you might call a character/setting set up and what I mean by that is the author takes you to Beartown…you are there in the frigid outdoors of a small isolated town in the forest as kids exhaust themselves playing hockey in an effort to not only make something of themselves and their future but also to save the town. These kids are aware of what a victory in the semi-finals means for Beartown and they will literally use their blood, sweat and tears to try to make it happen. As a result, we get to know some remarkable characters and their parents…Amat, Benji, Bobo, Maya, Ramona (seriously the love I have for this lady!) and others who infiltrated my heart and mind, and that’s just what Backman wants to happen because by the time the second half of the book rolls around, I was so obsessed with these characters, this town, and this story that…you guessed it…I was up until at least 2:00am reading!

I won’t tell you anything else about the plot except to say that of course there’s a pivotal, life altering, tragic event that happens that not everyone you’ve grown to love will recover from and the way Backman has this play out in the second half of the book is brilliant. I was so captivated by the writing and the story I didn’t care that I lost significant amounts of sleep for 2 nights…it’s just that good! And if you’ve read other reviews and/or blurbs about this book you might know that it’s often compared to Friday Night Lights which, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest tv shows EVER, and it most definitely reminded me of that small Texas football obsessed town. Now, David (hockey coach) was no Coach Taylor but there were other characters who reminded me of Tim Riggins, Tami, Buddy and Landry no doubt about it and I loved it all the more for these similarities.  “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…” Ah, miss you Coach Taylor:)

If you’re at all on the fence about this book I say give it a try, you might be like me and end up pulling a couple late nighters and making space for this one on your top reads of 2017 list!

 

 

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46 thoughts on “REVIEW: BEARTOWN By Fredrik Backman

  1. I’m glad I’m not alone… I also had to give up on Ove, despite having wanting to read it for so long and thinking it should be right up my street!

    Will give Beartown a go based on your review… thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did think I was one of the only people who didn’t care for Ove so glad to hear I wasn’t. I’m so happy my review has convinced you to read it, I’d love to hear what you think when you’re done…it’s really a great read IMO:) Thanks for stopping by

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    1. Thanks Ann Marie! From the other 2 I’ve tried, I do have to say it’s very different but I would guess if you love his previous books you’ll find that the writing is just as outstanding in this one…really these characters felt like real people!! I hope you’ll give it a try

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  2. I’m so glad you loved Beartown! Your review is brilliant, giving nothing away, but highlighting its essence. I’ve been up and down with Backman myself, and really hope to see more like Beartown from him in the fuuture.

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    1. Thanks so much Susie! It was a challenge to write about why I loved this book without telling anything about what happened:) I would love to see the same style of writing and characterization of this book from him in the future as well.

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  3. A Man Called Ove is one of my favourite books so I have been wanting to read everything Fredrik Backman has ever written but I am not a hockey fan. That is so horrible to admit to as a Canadian!! Reading your review has convinced me to pick this one up!

    I also loved the Friday Night Lights reference. Such a great show!

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    1. I hear you, I’m not at all a hockey fan and for this book it won’t matter even though that’s such an integral part…if that makes sense:) I really think if you loved Friday Night Lights you’ll love this, it just reminded me so much of that show! I hope you’ll enjoy it when you get to it

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  4. Great review Renee! I will have to try this one! I, too, could not get into Ove, BUT I was listening to the audiobook, so some of the blame could be there. I don’t want to throw it all on the book unless I give a physical copy a try. Yet, it did turn me off from this one! Your review makes me want to keep it on my TBR (it’s on there, but I have been cleaning it off the past few days!)! Thank you!! Oh, I’m not sure if I will get a chance to do TBT tomorrow, but I will try!! It’s been a crazy week with classes and will be for the next couple of weeks since I have 2 essays due within days of each other this month. One is ONLY 25 pages and the other is pushing 40 LOL. I could catch up with all my backlogged reviews if I didn’t have these essays to write hahaha! And those would be more fun to write! I’ll ping back to your TBT if I get a free chance to write it tonight 🙂

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    1. I really think you should keep this on your tbr Stephanie! It’s worth reading when you get time…I mean 40 pages??!😱I’m not sure I could write that much. TBT will be here whenever you jump back on, hope you get a chance for some fun reading in there with your classes:)

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      1. I’ll keep it on the tbr 😊 I thought 25 pages was a lot until I saw 40 pgs 😭 I keep telling myself it’s good practice for the thesis I’m writing that has to be 300 pages or more. There are times I wish I were a math major lol. I’m looking forward to doing TBT when I can! I’m reading for fun even if it’s just stolen minutes here or there! I’ve got several good ones lined up although it might take a while to read them, lol!

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  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! When I started reading your review, I wasn’t sure which way it was going to, particularly as there are novels by this author that you weren’t all that keen on.

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  6. I had already made up my mind about reading this book just based on your description of the characters and small town but then you threw in the FNL comparison. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose! I love this show and now I have to read this book ASAP. Brilliant review Renee!

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    1. Thank you Diana! I can’t believe how many others love FNL as much as I did…I was so obsessed with that show and cried after the series ended! I just loved that so many of these characters reminded of those in FNL…I can’t wait for you to read this, I think you’ll love it!

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