I don’t really care for hockey (I know, I know, I am a horrible Canadian) but I couldn’t help my curiosity surrounding Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I had heard so many things about it! So, when I saw it in the bookstore, I added it to my cart. In typical fashion, I put it on my shelf and assumed I would get around to it in 2021, until my friend Chelsea (at The Suspense Is Thrilling Me) bought the same book, so, I suggested that we do this one as a buddy read.
I am so glad I didn’t wait to read this book.
At first, I didn’t know what I was getting into. As I mentioned, I don’t really care for hockey but my extended family eats, sleeps and breathes it. They spend hours at the rink. They train all year. They do not miss a game. I don’t understand this but I understand the culture. Backman captures it brilliantly within these pages: the sacrifice, the anticipation and the hope. I initially started this one with the intention to read it slowly and when I had some time, however, after I sat down to read this novel, it demanded my full attention and I could not put it down.
Heart-wrenching, gut twisting and fast paced, I am still thinking about this book days after I completed it.
Set in a small, hockey town called Beartown, the novel opens with a bang. A teenager walks into the woods, fires a shotgun and everything changes. Backtracking several weeks, the scene is set leading to the events in the forest as we follow Beartown’s Junior hockey team preparing for their championship. Tensions run high. The star play is accused of rape. A girl is left in turmoil. A team crumbles.
During my reading, and in my discussion of the book with Chelsea, we talked about how this one really gave a Thirteen Reasons Why vibe, but more adult. There was something so ominous about the text. You are aware something bad is going to happen, the first pages prove it, but you are not privy to when or how. I was filled with anxiety and dread as I waited for the story to be told.
The thing that stood out for me about Beartown was how likeable all the characters were. There were so many characters, all incredibly unique and with completely different perspectives. The coach, the team’s GM, the players, the “puck bunnies”, the wives who get dragged along to the games, the mother’s who would rather die than see their children compromised. Every single character in this novel proved to be important.
There is something truly magical about the way that Fredrik Bachman writes. This was my first experience with the author and I know that it will not be my last.
This novel is dark, but deliciously brilliant, if you want a novel that will stick with you, Beartown is an obvious choice.
5/5 stars. I think this may be a contender for my favourite book of 2017.
Have you read Beartown? What did you think?!