By Fredrik Backman
Beartown is a small town with big dreams. Fredrik Backman takes us into this small community nestled amongst the trees, with a heavier storyline than his usual lighthearted, humorous fiction; maybe that’s because there’s so much riding on the outcome of this tale. Regardless, I was quickly drawn in and I could not put it down, reading it in a day.
For generations, Beartown has been a hockey town; the old ice rink is still there nestled among the trees, a stark reminder of what the town once was. As the town struggles with a fading economy, the junior hockey team is preparing for the game of their lives- the semi-finals that they actually have a chance at winning. A win will put Beartown back on the map, the factory will re-open, the workers will be re-hired, tourism will increase, people will stop in Beartown instead of passing through. All it will take is for the team to win.
With so much riding on one game, tensions are running high and it is affecting everyone. The board of directors are making hiring and firing decisions, the general manager is consumed and distracted by the game, parents face off against each other, and everything rests on the shoulders of the teenage boys who will win or lose, save or condemn their town.
Will Benji, Kevin, Amat and the others get their chance?
This is a story about emotions; hope, loss, jealousy, anger, longing, they’re all in there. These feelings can get in the way of decisions that need to be made and should be made, and how the little town that could copes with tragedy in the midst of the biggest game of their lives.
For fans of Backman’s other Swedish novels, A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises and Britt Marie Was Here, among others, Beartown will not disappoint. This is a story that raises questions that are not easy to answer and make you think about what you would do, if it was you.