BEARTOWN IS DYING…
Tucked in a forest in the frozen north, Beartown’s residents are tough and hardworking. They don’t expect life to be easy, but they do expect it to be fair.
Which is why the sudden loss of their hockey players to the rival Hed hurts. Everyone needs something to cheer for in the long winter nights. Now they have nothing.
So when a new star player arrives, Coach Peter sees an opportunity to rebuild the team – to take on Hed and restore Beartown’s fortunes. But not everyone in town sees it his way.
As the big game between both towns approaches, the rivalry turns bitter and all too real. Once the stands rumbled with threats to ‘kill’ and ‘ruin’ each other, but the residents didn’t mean it. Now they do.
By the time the last goal is scored, someone in Beartown will be dead…
Us Against You is the story of two towns, two teams and what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself. It’s about how people come together – sometimes in anger, often in sorrow, but also through love. And how, when we stand together, we can bring a town back to life.
Well, Us Against You, certainly did not disappoint, the follow up to Beartown (review here, reviewed as The Scandal) was as outstanding as it’s predecessor, living up to my high expectations and absorbing me for several days. If you haven’t read Beartown, I really think you should and it must be read before Us Against You – this is a series that needs to be read in order.
Picking up from where Beartown finished the town is left reeling and divided by The Scandal and this in turn has split the ice hockey team and caused untold amounts of tension and bad feeling. All played out on and around the Ice Rink. As with Beartown, this book is about sport and politics – the two don’t mix, but of course they do, because this book is really about people and communities, individuals and groups, conflicts and coming together. I enjoyed reading it immensely, but I shed a few tears along the way and wish I hadn’t finished this book – I wanted it to continue.
Fredrik Backman has been around a few years now, this is his sixth book and while Beartown and Us Against You are very different to his other books, they all have in common extraordinary characterisation. The characters in Us Against You are so well developed, as a sequel they were immediately familiar and truly engaging. A diverse group of people living in a small, dark town in Northern Sweden, where there are many problems in addition to the climate and the economy. The troubled folk aren’t always nice or good, but Backman develops and explores these characters in such a way that the reader invests in them, because they understand them, their passions and motivations are clear and I think it is this that makes them so endearing.
I want to know what happens next and I wonder if there is more to come from the folk in and of Beartown, does anyone know? And I cannot recommend this book (and series) highly enough, please do not be put off thinking this is a book about sport / ice hockey, trust me – I know nothing about Ice Hockey, but I like and know people and understand a group with a passion for a common cause. I understand mistakes and we see corruption and conflict everywhere. I see how in England it is footballers who are idolised but can and do behave badly and I see how groups come together with a common cause of supporting their team – on a national scale during The World Cup and how winning or losing, despite being only a game, means everything.
One of my favourite reads of this year, will you be reading Us Against You – have I convinced you that you should?
Thanks as always for reading.