This is a small story about big questions. It’s a story about family, community, life. It starts with a storm – and a death. But how does it end?
Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?
As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.
So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?
Back to Beartown, words can’t express how long I have been waiting to revisit this community, it feels like the distant past that I first visited Beartown, published then as The Scandal. Us Against You seems like ages ago now and I have read a lot of Backman along the way – A Man Called Ove, Britt Marie was Here, My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologies. Safe to say I am a fan, but more importantly this author creates the most incredible and memorable characters – anyone who read and gave a little bit of their heart to Ove knows this, but Britt Marie a periphery character in My Grandmother Sends her Regards and Apologies, hard and unlikeable, but then emerging as this warm, hurt and caring character in Britt Marie was Here further seals the deal.
And now back to Beartown, for the last time as The Winners concludes probably the best trilogy since the Millenium Trilogy – famed for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The first page broke my heart a little and I knew there was an emotional ride ahead…Backman writes in an original way – familiar from his other work but unique and he introduces a sense of foreboding, equipping the reader with the knowledge that by persevering with Beartown they were going to come out a bit changed, a bit broken perhaps; heartbroken. This is a trilogy about ice hockey and a small community called Beartown – obsessed with ice hockey and fierce rivals of neighbouring town Hed. It is about boys and girls; men and women – heroes and villains – idols. The champions on the ice.
Truthfully it is hard to find words to truly capture how special a series Beartown is. The author is astute in his observations, his characterisation and what is created is a community that feels real, we want it be real and the investment in the people is huge. The writing is sublime and the storytelling is perfection. It’s been a magical journey Beartown, already I am grieving the end.
Don’t pass this one up as a book about ice hockey – it really isn’t, but the sport is at the heart of the book, giving it context and purpose. You don’t have to know anything about ice hockey though, because it is people that play the sport, that support it and live in the community and it is those unforgettable people that this book is about. And if you have read the book, it’s Benji that the book is about, Benji of Beartown.
Read this book, but read in order – you can only read a book for the first time once, so don’t waste that moment – Beartown, Us Against You, The Winners.
Thank you as always for reading.
About the Author
Fredrik Backman made his literary debut in 2012 with the global sensation A Man Called Ove. Wickedly funny, touching and wise, Fredrik Backman’s novels are odysseys of the ordinary man and woman, stunningly moving tales of everyday courage. Up to now, Fredrik Backman has written seven highly acclaimed novels, two heartfelt novellas about life and love, and one non-fiction book about parenthood. His books have sold more than 18 million copies in 46 languages and the film adaptation of A Man Called Ove was nominated for two Academy Awards. His novel Anxious People became an instant No.1 New York Times Best Seller.