While certainly not my favorite book of the year, Beartown by Fredrik Backman is indeed a very deep and emotional book, one which will probably collide my mind for days to come from now on.
The book follows the story of a hockey team in a snow covered little town from Sweden, called fictionally Beartown. Think of this town like a place drained of any hope and perspective besides the hockey team, a hope regarding a past history where their team used to win all of the games and bring joy to the whole community. But this was over 15 years ago, and ever since, the town hasn’t seen any victory anymore. Until now.
The young hockey team seems like the first promising one after so many year, so it goes without saying that its members are seen like living gods by the rest of the community, like they are a drop of hope in an ocean of broken dreams. So much that the hero of the team, the son of the main sponsor, Kevin, feels like the entire world falls at his feet, and the universe begins and ends where he is standing. And yet, a turbulence in their quiet existence is meant to change everyone’s lives.
Late one evening, toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there.
The story unfolds from days before the first game the team is about to play, and the author gracefully presents us the town and its inhabitants slowly in every chapter, giving us just enough insight to feel the coldness and the claustrophobic ambience of a small town that barely has anything left to lose.
Let me be clear-I understand small towns. I lived in one. If anything, I can’t think of a more terrifying setting than that. Small towns have small minds mentalities, with stuck up people that can’t see more than what’s right in front of them. People observe, judge, and condemn without mercy for the world had no mercy on them when it abandoned them there. Above the smallness of the setting, just imagine Beartown being situated near the wilderness in a forest, and it being an all-winter town, and you can easily feel the damnation atmosphere.
This book is a fiction book, but I truly think it would have been more suited to become a thriller, for the thrilling parts were by far the most fascinating ones for me. However, for anyone that loves fiction books and is not that keen on reading thrillers, Beartown may be exactly what you have been waiting for.
There are endless amazing quotes that I would love to include in this review, but I will simply end it with the one that made me read the book in the first place, and I think it perfectly captures anyone’s feelings about living in a small town without hope, or being part of a doomed chaotic dysfunctional family.
“When I was little, my dad used to hit me if I spilled my milk, Leo. That didn’t teach me not to spill things. It just made me scared of milk. Remember that.”
If you are not much of a reader and you are more into television, the book was adapted in a tv show, and it is available on HBO Go in here. I am currently yet to watch this one, but I have read raving reviews about it, so I am sure we are talking about an amazing adaptation.
For more amazing book recommendations, check out this amazing list with YA fantasy series.