Books,  Reviews

Beartown – Book Review

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Published by: Atria Books
Publish Date: 2017
Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
HB&W Rating: 3
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Another morning comes. It always does. Time always moves at the same rate, only feelings have different speeds. Every day can mark a whole lifetime or a single heartbeat, depending on who you spend it with.


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.

Synopsis source: Goodreads


Well, it would appear that once again, I’m going against the grain on this one. I had heard some many wonderful things about Fredrik Backman. Most of those good things revolved around his novel “A Man Called Ove,” which I have yet to read, but when browsing titles at my library, I put a hold on both that novel and this one and this one came up first.

It started off with a pretty arresting statement, and it is segmented in a way that I thought, surely, this would be a quick read. As I got into the book, I liked the in-depth character studies, of just about everyone who apparently lived in Beartown, but the pace just meandered a bit…well, okay, a LOT. Some books that doesn’t bother me, but this one, well, it just stretched on and on and on. Before I knew it, my two weeks with it were up and I wasn’t even halfway through it yet. That is saying a lot for me. But after all the hype, I thought that I had better put another hold on it and see what all the fuss is about. When it was finally my turn again, I began again with gusto. But….nope. Then it took a most unexpected turn and I was into it again, waiting for that very first line that precipitated the ending to come to fruition. It did….and it didn’t. I don’t want to say more and give it away.

Another aspect I didn’t care for was that the narrative was just too choppy for me. So much back and forth between too many different characters’ points of view, with the present, past and future spoken about often in the same paragraph which was giving me whiplash.

You never have the sort of friends you have when you’re fifteen ever again. Even if you keep them for the rest of your life, it’s never the same as it was then.

And it seemed as if every other minute there was a statement made, a nugget of wisdom, let’s call it, that would have you seeing something one way, then by the end of another chapter or two It would be reiterated and have you seeing it the opposite way. I can respect an author’s ability to do that, but this is done so frequently that it seemed to me that the author likes to hear himself talk, or as if he’s shouting to the world, “look how clever I am!”

Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard, It makes demands. Hate is simple. So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that’s easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe – comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.

That said there were many nuggets of wisdom in his words, which I appreciated, because when you have a platform, and you use it to speak out about something many would rather not face, when you choose to use your platform for positive change, I can applaud that. For that reason and because the character studies were well-developed, I’m giving it 3 stars, but this was just not a book for me.

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