Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Published: 25th April, 2017
Goodreads
Series: Björnstad #1
Rating: 5

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 is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. It’s a book about small town communities, mothers, fathers, team spirit, the sort of friends you have when you are fifteen, the love of hockey, and loyalty: to your team, to your family, to your town.

There are few words that are harder to explain than ‘loyalty’. It’s always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other occur because of the same thing.

It’s dark and uncomfortable at places, but there’s always a glimmer of hope.

This book was an emotional roller coaster for me. I come from a small town myself, and know all too well how it feels when all eyes are on you and there’s no way to blend in to the faceless crowd.

There are thousands of ways to die in Beartown. Especially on the inside.

It takes great skills to manage such a large cast of characters efficiently, and Fredrik Backman does just that. All their unique voices come through clearly, hitting you in the feels with great precision. Beartown sucks you in, makes you wonder about the same things that occupies many of its inhabitants minds. Can winning a hockey match be more important than people? Even if that hockey is the town’s only chance of survival? Or are they just closed minded to think it is, and there would actually be other ways?

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 semi final 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.

The town’s economy is dwindling, but there are still people who do much better than others. We get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and the poor just the same, and they all have their own struggles. Not even the most privileged ones have an easy time here.

A great deal is expected of anyone who’s been given a lot.

A horrible act is committed, and in its wake personal tragedies unfold. Nobody seems to be untouched by the events one way or another. The small community is divided. We, as readers are right there when the crime is committed, the silent witnesses all the nastiness. Yet, I think, there will still be some among us whose outrage will be entirely misplaced. I often entertain the idea that we, bookish people are gentle souls with open minds and a great sense for right and wrong. The truth is, people are people and some of us will bend the story out of shape, just to support our own ideas and beliefs, no matter how warped they might be.

They are probably people who live secure lives, who are surrounded by people who share their own opinions and only talk to people who reinforce their own worldview.

What can a friendship survive?

Beartown is not about happy endings. This is what I love so much about Scandinavian authors, TV series, and films. They are not afraid of the dark. They embrace it, and make it okay somehow.

This book will make you ask some very uncomfortable questions to yourself.

There are damn few things in life that are harder than admitting to yourself that you’re a hypocrite.

P.S. For us, UK folks, this was published as The Scandal.


Get Beartown on Amazon UK (hardcover).

Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about or involving a sport #19

Whether you are going through the topics in order, or randomly, or ignore some, reading challenges are a good way to get inspiration for your book pics. It’s the first time I actually decided to join one. Other than joining the Goodreads Popsugar Challenge group for ideas, I’m not following any particular order they set. I feel I already imposed enough restrictions on myself. I’m such a free spirit, I know…

The first prompt that grabbed my attention was the sports related one. I’m not a fan of anything or anyone, don’t enjoy or follow any sports in particular, but this doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy a book that has something to do with it. On the contrary. As long as it’s fiction, there’s always hope.

I was very liberal when I picked these eight books, but hey… If you are a sports hater like me, or just don’t enjoy technical non-fiction, these are all safe bets.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
The book is about a murder, set in a small Swedish town whose only hope for revival is their up and coming ice hockey team.

Trail of Murder (Lee Squires #1) by Christine Andreae
An English teacher & poet turned cook as a protagonist, murder, hiking and horse riding through the wilderness. I told you I was liberal with my pics, and yes, hiking is a sport.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
A story about a fifteen-year-old gymnastics prodigy, murder, jealousy and ambition.

Spud by John van de Ruit
The absolutely hilarious story of John ‘Spud’ Milton, his friends (The Crazy Eight), prepubescent anguish and the love of cricket, set in a posh South-African boarding school during the early ’90s.

Deal Breaker by Harlan Koben
Secrets and lies surround sports agent Myron Bolitar and his favourite rookie quarterback Christian Steele in this suspenseful novel.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A little girl lost in the woods, kept alive by her love for baseball and her fantasies about her favourite player, Tom Gordon coming to her rescue.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King
The chilling story of William ‘Blockade Billy’ Blakely, the greatest baseball player with a dark secret.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
A book about the struggles and dreams of running back Mick Johnson who is trying to navigate the cruel world of american football.