Beartown

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman
Published by Atria Books on April 25th 2017
Pages: 432
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five-stars

“You never want to get away from home as much as you do when your’re fifteen years old.”

Ain’t that the truth?

“You can’t live in this town, Maya, you can only survive it.”

You are preaching to the choir here. Small towns, man. I grew up in a small town. You either know everybody or you are related to them. I could not get away fast enough. People in small towns have each others backs – until that moment when they don’t. People like to choose a side. What if you chose the wrong side?

Beartown is a hockey town. Seriously, who does not love a hockey town? Showing my bias – I love hockey. Beartown residents love the game, they love their players, they love to win. They take great pride in their hockey achievements. The small town hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals and guess what????? They might just win!!!! The town’s pride rests on the shoulders of the teenage players. Most are hungry to win. Most have dreamed (and trained) of this moment for as long as they can remember. But is carrying the towns hopes and dreams on their shoulders too much for this group or will they rally to the challenge? Are the town and their parents putting too much pressure on them?

“Never again do you find friends like the one’s you have when you are fifteen years old.”

Peter is the General Manager of the Beartown Hockey team and the Maya’s father. A former player himself he wants his team to win and then a devestating act changes him and his family forever. Maya and Ana are close friends. Ana spends most nights at Maya’s home as her home life is uncomfortable and strained. Both rely on each other for emotional support and friendship. Their friendship is strong and can weather any storm.

And a storm is coming……..

After a night of celebrating a violent assault takes place. An assault that turns good hard working people into angry people out for blood – parents trying to save their hockey team. People take sides. They don’t seem to really care about facts, or the truth, they believe what the want to believe. Once they have that belief, it is hard to change their mind. Who do you believe? The 15 year old girl with bruises? or the Confident Hockey player who the town has placed all of their hopes and dreams upon.

“Words are not small things.”
They are HUGE things. People use their words to hurt in this book i.e. bullying and blaming the victim. There is also a group mentality among the family members of the players. Other characters are also the victims of harsh words via bullying.

Before I go any further let me just make one thing clear – I LOVED this book. I will make a stand and say I believe it is Backman’s best. It is powerful and poetic at the same time. His writing is beautiful and poignant. I’m mean seriously take this line: “The room is silent enough to hear when his heart breaks.” I’m mean really…his words are beautiful and haunting. Backman eloquently gives the reader a glimpse into the inhabitants of a small town’s lives. There are a lot of characters in this book and yet the amount of characters never seems overwhelming. There are characters who are driven to practice day in and day out because they do not lose (Kevin), characters (Benji) who lost a parent to suicide and raised by his sisters, a man (Peter)who is a father and General Manager of the Hockey team whose daughter is the victim, a player (Amat)who has been raised by a single Mother and is the fastest and youngest on the team, a character (Maya)who is a 15 year old who loves her guitar and plays day and night. There are so many characters in this book and yet each has an interesting back story. Each contributes to the story, each causes us to think and feel.

There is sadness in this book and there is beauty. There is love, friendship, pain, lies, denial and a violent assault. There are so many themes in this book and I could write half the night – but I wont. Sometimes simplicity is best. So simply put, this book was AMAZING!!!!!

For those who do not like sports or hockey *GASP* please note: This is a book about Hockey and yet is not about hockey. It is a book about human nature, relationships, the good and the bad in people, wanting to fit in, wanting to be better, wanting to belong, wanting to win, and wanting to be accepted.

If you have not read this book and you love to read – READ THIS BOOK!! Because this book is so many things but the main thing is AMAZING.

Can I just say that I think Backman is just getting warmed up. I think he is going to continue to dazzle us with his brilliant novels for years to come. Mark my words – he is only going to get better as he has already gotten better. I will say it here, I will say it now, this brilliant Swedish man has a gift. I will read every single word, savor them and be a very happy reader!

I HIGHLY Recommend this book.

five-stars

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch
Published by Atria Books on June 16th 2015
Pages: 372
ISBN: 1501115065
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four-stars

Tomorrow I am going to send you out on the biggest treasure hunt you have ever seen, my brave little knight. Are you ready for that?

Elsa is 7 years old and a little different. Her Grandmother is 77 years old and the Queen of being different. Together they are best friends. Elsa’s Grandmother is a fantastic storyteller and is quite gifted at creating a world of fairy tales for her and Elsa to play in. The land of Almost Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas are places where everyone is different and no one is bullied.

Elsa lives with her pregnant Mother and Step Father. She sees her Father but their interactions are awkward and short lived. Elsa’s peers bully her constantly and she is frequently getting into trouble and/or beat up at school. She finds a champion in her Grandmother who seems to be the only person who understands her. Elsa is devastated when her Grandmother dies. But her Grandmother isn’t finished taking care of her yet, because she leaves behind a bunch of letters which she wants Elsa to deliver sending her on her most important journey yet.

Through the letters she learns more about her Grandmother and the life she had before she became Elsa’s Grandmother. Elsa who once felt small and alone soon learns that there are those who will rally around her, protect her and keep an eye out for her. One of my favorite parts of the book was not the fairy tale worlds but the conversation that Elsa has with her father who told her that he didn’t fight for custody of her because he did not want to take her away from her Grandmother.

This is a sweet story by the Author of “A Man called Ove”

four-stars

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch
Published by Atria Books on July 15th 2014
Pages: 337
ISBN: 1476738017
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four-stars

This book started slow for me and then gradually I found myself liking it more and more. I think this is what the Author’s intent was with Ove. We are instantly introduced to Ove and then the more we learn about him, the more we like him. There is more to Ove than the crabby exterior he presents to the world. As his wife once said “he is dancing on the inside”. Ove likes order, he likes rules, he thinks things should be a certain way and yet he lets a cast of characters into his life who don’t follow the rules, who fly by the seat of their pants and aren’t very orderly. This is the true beauty of the book. Under his stern, tough exterior there is a sweet man who returns a wallet full of money as child, a man who takes a train the wrong way to sit next to a woman, a man who teaches a woman to drive, takes in a misfit cat, befriends a young man and becomes a surrogate grandfather.

This was a moving book. At times funny, at times sad, but always good.

four-stars