Review: Beartown (Fredrik Backman)
“If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway.”
Beartown (Fredrik Backman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In a large Swedish forest, Beartown hides a dark secret . . .
Cut-off from everywhere else, it experiences the kind of isolation that tears people apart.
And each year, more and more of the town is swallowed by the forest. Then the town is offered a bright new future. But it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act.
It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done.
Who will speak up?
Could you stand by and stay silent?
Or would you risk everything for justice?
Which side would you be on?
*TW: Rape, bullying, suicide
I loved A Man Called Ove and was excited to read more by Backman. When I first read the synopsis, I wasn’t entirely convinced as I have no knowledge or interest in ice hockey, but oh my gosh this book is amazing. I think Backman’s writing style takes a bit of getting used to but it works with the book and the story. It also made me wish I was fluent in Swedish as I think it would have been even more powerful reading it without the translation
There are a lot of characters in Beartown, but all essential, all important to the story. They each offer unique, rich and diverse viewpoints, forming a complex web of a town, all centred around an ice rink. Benji was by far my favourite character, I absolutely adored him and loved how he refused to conform, he played by his own rules and didn’t follow the crowd. Considering how many characters there are, I never felt like any part of the storyline was rushed.
There are some truly heartbreaking moments, and one of the most poignant points raised in the story is “Can we protect our children?” and I think Backman does a really good job of looking at so many different perspectives, different styles of parenting and how no matter what you do, your children have their own lives to live. There’s no shying away from the brutality and horror of the events in Beartown, and I found it so interesting how Backman showed the way in which events that happened on the ice do not seem to abide by the same morals and rules off the ice.
“Never trust people who don’t have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason.”
Throughout the story, questions about society are raised, and ultimately I didn’t find this a happy story, but there were glimmers of hope woven into the book, and the strengths of particular relationships shone through which I loved, especially the relationships between Kira and Maya, and Maya and Ana, and it felt so real, so vivid, it forces the reader to think about all-too common and real issues in society today. I felt SO many emotions while reading this, and I would seriously recommend reading this book. I’ve got the sequel waiting for me on my shelf (Us Against You) and while I can’t wait to get to it, part of me also wants to save it!