The back of beyond…the forest at your doorstep…the cold and the dark…and the weight of the whole town’s expectations on your shoulders. Beartown’s junior ice hockey team know what pressure is all about, and this fast-paced story adds a distressing crime to the challenges they face. Giving equal weight to both the numerous characters and the plot, the author challenges readers to consider the power given to sport in Western society and the negative consequences that can follow this obsession.
Readers who enjoy contemporary thought-provoking stories with universal themes will find this a worthy specimen. Beartown immerses you in a community that is struggling to survive, where everyone has known everyone else forever. If you have read a previous book by this author, A man called Ove, then you will know that Fredrik Backman is adept at writing about communities of interesting people — the good, the bad and the ugly. And in this story, all three categories are present.
Although set in the northern hemisphere and featuring ice hockey, it is a story that makes you think of New Zealand and our obsession with sport. Substitute the ice hockey for rugby and it could be a story that unfortunately feels very close to home. It is therefore the perfect vehicle for discussing how we treat our young sports people, and how we allow them to treat others. Even if you are like me and would prefer reading a book to standing on the sidelines cheering with the crowd, this story is absorbing and compels you to take sides yourself – but fortunately from the comfort of your armchair rather than the pitch.
You have to have your wits about you to keep up with the many characters. However, as they are all crucial to the story you do become invested in what is happening and they soon all fall into place.
A member of four book groups, Annie is happy to read anything and everything that comes her way, but she especially enjoys books that enlarge her world view.View more reviews