A Man Called Ove put Fredrik Backman on the literary map, reaching the New York Times’ Best Seller’s List as well as scoring the envious honor of having his first novel successfully transferred to the big screen. With his fourth novel Beartown, Backman has established himself as a literary tour de force, highlighting his evolution as a writer, adding both depth to his prose and a willingness to explore the darker side of humanity. He has a magical way of balancing tragedy with a light touch, always finding the humor in the inevitable trauma that occurs in all human life.
Beartown is located in the woods on the edge of civilization and hockey is everything. The junior team is on the cusp of winning the national title for the first time in twenty years and nothing else much matters. A win for the team will be a win for the town, breathing life into the dying economy. For many of the townspeople, hockey is sacred. Winning isn’t everything, its the only thing. But the actions of one can effect all, and the members of Beartown are soon forced to look in the mirror to decide if their collective morality can line up with the truth. Juggling a multitude of characters, Backman does a superb job breathing life into each and every one of them, bringing them alive on the page, creating three dimensional humans: love and hate, jealousy and pride, humility and selflessness all on display. In previous novels, the tragedy usually provides a backdrop from the past to inform the present. Beartown, however, opens with a cliffhanger, and I spent the rest of the novel on the edge of my seat waiting for the hammer to drop. As I rushed headlong through the pages to find out what was going to happen, I fell in love with many of Beartown’s inhabitants along the way. Do yourself a favor, get this book. Get any of his books! They’re all fantastic!