Summary and book reviews of Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown

by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman X
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2017, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2018, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan

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About this Book

Book Summary

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream - and the price required to make it come true.

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.

Beartown 1

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.

Beartown 2
Bang-bang-bang-bang-bang.

It's a Friday in early March in Beartown and nothing has happened yet. Everyone is waiting. Tomorrow, the Beartown Ice Hockey Club's junior team is playing in the semifinal of the biggest youth tournament in the country. How important can something like that be? In most places, not so important, of course. But Beartown isn't most places.

Bang. Bang. Bang-bang-bang.

The town wakes early, like it does every day; small towns need a head start if they're going to have any chance in the world. The rows of cars in the parking lot outside the factory are already covered with snow; people are standing in silent lines with their eyes half-open and their minds half-closed, waiting for their ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Introduction

Beartown is a small community on the brink of disappearing into the surrounding forest as the town loses more and more young people and commerce to the larger surrounding towns. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, home of the hockey club that has long been the sole source of entertainment and pride for the townspeople, and the only possible ticket out of town for the young men who grew up playing hockey there.

Now, the seventeen-year-old boys who make up Beartown's junior ice hockey team carry the immense weight of all the town's hopes and dreams on their shoulders. The team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning—a win that could bring a...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I have read all of Fredrick Backman's books, and with each and every one I am pleasingly surprised at just how consistently wonderful a writer he is. He takes a subject I have no interest in, and turns it into a story that grips me from the first page. This time, his story centers on the game of hockey, a sport that I not only don't care for, but also sometimes find appalling. Yet when Backman starts describing how his characters play the game, including the violence that comes with it, we understand that this novel isn't just about a sport. Rather, hockey is simply the metaphor used to explore the human condition.   (Reviewed by Davida Chazan).

Full Review (689 words).

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Media Reviews

O, The Oprah Magazine
[A] slow burn of a novel about a community that pours all its hopes into a youth hockey team. Think Friday Night Lights for Swedes.

Kirkus Reviews
Backman is a masterful writer .... A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit, Backman's latest will resonate a long time.

Amazon.com
Best Book Choice - April. Masterful in its storytelling and honesty, this is another winner for Backman, surpassing even his much-lauded A Man Called Ove.

Publishers Weekly
While the story is dark at times, love, sacrifice, and the bonds of friendship and family shine through ultimately offering hope and even redemption.

Booklist
The sentimentally savvy Backman (A Man Called Ove, 2014) takes a sobering and solemn look at the ways alienation and acceptance, ethics and emotions nearly destroy a small town.

Library Journal
Another solid offering from best-selling Swedish author Backman, with many parallels for American readers and small towns everywhere.

Reader Reviews

Patty Wilkins

Beartown
I thought it was excellent . . . great character development. But I must know which of the four boys died. I don't want it to be Benjie!

Laurie

Best one yet
The author of the international bestseller, A Man Called Ove, is back! On the surface, Beartown is a novel of a small town where every man, woman, and child is obsessed by hockey, driven to watch, cheer, and kowtow to anyone connected to the rink, ...   Read More

Cloggie Downunder

a very good read, but not a brilliant one.
The Scandal (also titled Beartown) is the fourth full-length novel by Swedish blogger, columnist and author, Fredrik Backman. It is translated from Swedish by Neil Smith. As remote as this place in the forest is, and barely surviving economic ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

My Thoughts About Fredrik Backman's Books

Fredrik BackmanAs I noted in my review of Beartown, I've read all of Fredrik Backman's works that have English translations. In fact, I was lucky enough to be one of the first early readers of his debut novel, A Man Called Ove. I realized then that I was witnessing the birth of an amazing talent and, to date, he hasn't ever let me down. Unfortunately, it's tough to find a whole lot out about Backman. A New York Times article notes that before he published Ove, he was a college dropout (where he studied religion), and it took him a while to become the "overnight success" he is today. He was a freelance writer for a Swedish magazine while working "as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so that he could write during the day...

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