- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books; Translation edition (April 25, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501160761
- ISBN-13: 978-1501160769
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,028 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beartown: A Novel Hardcover – April 25, 2017
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The Amazon Book Review
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An Amazon Best Book of April 2017: How do I love Beartown? Let me count the ways. It’s a domestic drama in which a family is pulled apart by an act of violence. It’s a coming-of-age story for a young woman who must choose to speak out or keep silent. (And a young man, too, actually.) It’s a slow-build thriller, opening the story with the statement that one teenager is going to put a shotgun to the head of another and pull the trigger. It’s a cautionary tale of small-town thinking…yet at the same time celebrates how a handful of people can change a tight-knit community. Beartown has so much going on within its enjoyably readable pages that putting it in a literary box is all but impossible—and indeed that is one of the many reasons readers will pass this book amongst one another with a confident “I think you’ll like this.” As the town’s finances decline, small, scrappy Beartown hunkers deeper into itself, proud only of its white-hot junior hockey team led by a coach whose hard-driving mantra is, simply, “Win.” Seizing the upcoming hockey championship could lure a new hockey academy their way and jumpstart the local economy. But the exposure of a hidden crime sweeps the hockey club into its vortex and fractures the town and longtime friendships, even as it welds together new, unlikely alliances. Once the crime is revealed, Beartown could have strolled down an easy trail, but Backman refuses to tread it, sidestepping the predictable as he forges a new path of soul-searching and truth-telling. There are hard moments here, and readers might find difficult discoveries in their own hearts as the people of Beartown struggle with what they hope is real but fear is not. Masterful in its storytelling and honesty, this is another winner for Backman, surpassing even his much-lauded A Man Called Ove. —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
From School Library Journal
In rural Sweden, a team of junior hockey players are on the cusp of changing everything for Beartown. If the players can win the championship, the small town may attract new businesses, improve its ailing economy, and recover its dignity. Everyone, from the local bar owner to the mother who cleans the rink, is linked to the boys and has a stake in whether they win or lose, making the teammates demigods within the community. After a night of celebrating a memorable semifinals win, the star player is accused of raping the general manager's daughter. The community must decide between holding the alleged rapist accountable, and thereby forfeiting their chances at success, and overlooking the crime. While this book has Backman's deep character development, it has none of the lightheartedness or mysticism of his previous best sellers, such as A Man Called Ove. This is a serious look at how the actions of one or two people can affect an entire town. VERDICT This title deserves a place on high school shelves for its complex characters and tight narrative. Schools with avid hockey fans won't want to miss it.—Krystina Kelley, Belle Valley School, Belleville, IL
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I rolled my eyes at the hockey town theme for about 50 pages and then got lost in Beartown. This book is not really about hockey, but about a crumbling town far from anywhere that has nothing but hockey and the people who are in it. The residents of Beartown have known each other forever. The happenings and how the personalities bounce off each other in such human ways (hatefully and lovingly) makes this a fascinating and unforgettable book.
This book is not at all like the Ove book except that it is written by a genius of human understanding.
I also do not like stories about fictional crimes. I retired from a career as a criminal defense lawyer with more than one hundred jury trials to my credit most of which were murder cases. Fictional crimes frequently read as silly nonsense to me. Real crime is ugly, stupid, and frequently violent and not the thing you'd make polite conversation about let alone an entertainment. This book is about a serious fictional crime.
There you have two reasons why I should not like this book but I'm giving it 4 stars. I'd give it 5 stars but it disappoints me for another reason. I discovered this author a little over 2 years ago when my wife insisted I read his book "A Man Called Ove". I did as my wife asked....reluctantly, but I loved that book and became a fan of the author. I have since read all of his subsequent books and marveled at his artistry and storytelling ability. Alas, in this book that storytelling talent seems to be a bit lacking as the plot of this book is almost cliche and therein lays my disappointment. The plot involves a youth hockey team in a dying small backwoods town. The town's sole remnant of pride rests in this team and they have just won the big game and are on the way to the national finals. A win means a resurrection for the town and economic gains. During a post-game celebration a crime is committed involving a star player of the team. Up until this point we have all seen or read this story before. It usually involves a small rust-belt town in the North or a dried-up town in Texas and the sport is usually football. Totally predictable, but wait. We have Fredrik Backman as the author of this "cliche" and this isn't like him, at least not as far as I've read so far. Am I going to have to give this book a low rating and a bad review?
After the crime is committed is when the meat of the story and Backman's talent take off. From this point the author dissects this town, its organizations, its values, its motivations, its residents, their relationships, their values, their vices and their virtues. Never have I read such a magnificent portrayal of human behavior in all its imperfections. Backman's observations of the human condition are remarkably accurate and laid bare for everyone to see. I have dealt with countless behavioral scientists in my professional life and none of them were ever able to describe human behavior as well as this author has done in this book. A stunning achievement and a book that deserves to be read. (less)
I read it in one sitting, for it reads like a thriller, even though it's all flashback. Backman's previous books have been wise and funny and a little tragic, but this is a masterpiece. It centers on a small town seeking glory from its hockey club. I know these kids and these families and so will you. You'll recognize "how we got here", too. Backman brings to life their hopes and dreams, frustrations and difficulties--adults and teens alike. "Beartown" should be read and discussed in every high school; it's topical and yet these events have happened for centuries. It takes place in Sweden, but could be any small town in America, too. In sports and life what we hope our children learn is to make good choices in a very un-ideal world. Fiction is a way to enter into an age-old discussion framed so beautifully by one of the characters: "This town doesn't always know the difference between right and wrong...but we know the difference between good and evil." What is the right thing to do when things go very wrong? You'll be compelled to find your answer. Backman is the Dickens of our age, and though you'll cry, your heart is safe in his hands.