Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beartown - by Fredrik Backman: Book Review

Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrick Backman
No. Pages: 336
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: 25.04.2017

In a tiny community, obsessed with hockey or completely uninterested in it, things change in the course of a few weeks. As you read, you begin to care about hockey, too. Who knew? More than that, you begin to care about the people playing hockey, and about the people who have family members and friends playing hockey, and about all the characters in this novel, because you cannot possibly live in or read about Beartown and not care about hockey. It would be blasphemous.

It starts slowly, like a warm-up before a game. Soon the pace picks up and the focus is shifted from the hockey match that might save Beartown to the relationship between the characters. You cannot stay neutral, you can't help agreeing with each side, but you cannot pick sides. In a community you see everyone's point.

This novel is about many things: about hockey, clearly; but also about a parent's constant love and cheering on; about the friends you have when you are fifteen; about how some things can be overlooked in favor of a supreme good; about how easy it is to look the other side. This book is many things, but without impact on its readers it is not.

The author kept hinting to things that were to follow. Although the "action" was not fast-paced in the beginning, the author gives you a background on each character. Some pieces of information felt like they were repeated over and over again, but every time they led to a new route in the story. Every repetition and every word is aimed to draw attention to a specific aspect and to stress something you mustn't overlook. The author creates suspense, despite the above mentioned hinting. Just when you think you know what's about to happen or how the characters will react, with the swift of a word and the turn of a phrase, everything changes.

I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed reading this book. I can honestly say that Fredrik Backman is my (current) favorite fiction author. His writing gets better and better with each new book, and I can't wait for his next novel.

I was honored to received an advanced e-book galley from the publisher via Net Galley. All thoughts expressed here are my own.

Beartown - List of Characters (contains spoilers!)
Peter Andersson- GM Beartown Hockey Club
Kira - lawyer, Peter's wife
Maya - their daughter
Anna - Maya's best friend
Leo - their son
Kevin Erdahl - the best hockey player, the star
Kevin's father - influential, has much money
Kevin's mother - successful career
Amat - player, poor background
Fatima - his mother, cleaner at the club
Sune - coach A-team
David - coach junior team
Benji - Benjamin Ovich - the heart of the team; Kevin's best friend
Alan Ovich - Benji's father, killed himself 15 year before
Adri - Benji's eldest sister, own kennels
Katia - Benji's sister, owns a bar, The Barn, in Hed
Gaby - Benji's sister, has two children
Jeanette - highschool teacher, friends with Adri
Bengt - coach boys' team
William Lyt - player junior team
Maggan Lyt - William's mother
Bobo - junior team, kind of a bully
Hog - his father, friends with Peter
Ann-Katrin - Bobo's mother, nurse
Ramona - owns Bearskin, the pub in Beartown
Holger - Ramona's deceased husband
Filip - player junior team
Filip's mom - friends with Maggan
junior hockey team: Kevin, Benji, Amat, William, Bobo, Filip.

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