Friday, January 26, 2018

Beartown Review

By: Fredrik Backman

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.

Oh my goodness this was a difficult read for me! For months I had seen Beartown popping up in bookstores and on my FB feed before I finally gave in to the idea that I needed to read this book and began reading it last week. It took me forever to get into it, and there were quite a few times (I counted at least 5) when I thought for sure I was just going to give up and move on. But the positive comments I saw about the book on FB lent me the tenacity I needed to continue on with it. It wasn't until chapter 12 that I finally started to accept the fact that no matter how dull I found the book to be I was not going to give up on it. Literally, I was about halfway through before I admitted to myself that I was in for the long haul. Then I finished the rest of the book in about 4 hours. Thankfully it was about 75% of the way through the book that it really finally picked up. 

The book began slowly with many, mostly vague, character introductions and a much longer intro about the hockey town that they all called home. Unfortunately, hockey does nothing for me (I love poutine though so my Canadian citizenship can't be completely revoked). The author didn't spend enough time on any character to give the reader time to develop any affinity's with any of them and the whole book went on that way, where even when a seriously tragic event happened and all of the characters in the novel were impacted in a negative way I didn't feel much for any of them beyond the typical sympathetic human response. 

The only thing I enjoyed about the novel was the way that the author dealt with the small-town response of its teenage hockey hero being accused of rape. There was a solid line drawn in the sand and Fredrik Backman made no bones about concretely placing the townspeople on both sides of that line, purely based on opinion instead of fact. In my opinion it was a very true to life depiction of what happens when sexual assault takes place and it was both disturbing and heartbreaking. 

I rarely feel such a sense of accomplishment after finishing a book but I really wasn't sure whether I would be able to finish this one or not. I find it a little odd that even though I did not enjoy this particular book or even the way that it was written with the choppy paragraph's, immediately after finishing this novel I googled more books by Fredrik Backman because something about his writing made me want to read more of his work. Hopefully the next one will win me over.

Final Rating:
Probability of Rereading:

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

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