To many residents of Beartown, ice hockey is everything. It’s their livelihood, their friends and family, and their way out. It’s the one thing with any chance of putting Beartown on the map after unemployment and council cuts have ruined the town. This book isn’t really about ice hockey, or even Beartown. It’s about love, loss, pride and betrayal in a community coming together to try and save themselves.
The junior team have somehow managed to find themselves going to the semi finals. Their star player Kevin is likely to go professional one day and put Beartown on the map. The club’s sponsors are hoping a win would bring great investment to the town and turn it around. The whole town is behind them with the hope of better things to come.
The players, their parents and other adults from the town have stories of winning and losing, in life as well as in hockey. Many have lost so much along the way. The grief for a lost child, parent and husband is heartbreaking, and so finely balanced against the love for their sport. With most of the town looking ahead to the finals and what they could bring, an unmentionable act of violence leaves Beartown shaken to its core. But can they survive?
There are some beautifully written characters in this book that really grab you as the story unfolds. I was cheering on the underdog, admiring the assertive women and feeling pity for small men with big wallets. Difficult decisions test the loyalty of many residents while the club comes to mean more to the town than they could have ever imagined. The unlikely heroes, the unmentionable acts of kindness, and the shameful opinions of certain people make this a book you won’t be forgetting in a hurry. If you loved A Man Called Ove you won’t know what’s hit you. This is Fredrik Backman’s best book yet!
This review is for the American title of Beartown. In the U.K. It will be called The Scandal when it is published in August.
You can read more reviews for Fredrick Backman’s other books here: Fredrick Backman Reviews