About the book
After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.
Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.
Published by Atria Books
Where to even begin with sharing my love for this book??!! Even if it did leave me a complete emotional mess, and even writing this review a day after I finished it, the thoughts and feelings I have towards the inhabitants of Beartown are as strong as ever and it is fair to say this is going straight in my list of 2018 favourite books – as Beartown did in 2017.
I’d highly recommend reading Beartown, if you haven’t already, before picking up this book. The emotions and connections you make towards so many characters begin in book one, and just makes the impact of this follow up more hard hitting, more heartbreaking and more heartwarming.
It follows on story in a way I didn’t think it would be able to manage! After book one the town of Beartown is completely divided after the shocking events witnessed by some, disbelieved by many. A lot of the hockey players have switched to the rival team at Hed, and the story follows Beartown trying to get back its’ team, its’ pride and its’ community. The hatred felt between Beartown and Hed has gone on for years, but this year it is ramped up to a level like no other and the levels that some – on both sides – go to in their pursuit of making others suffer is often staggering.
It was fascinating to see how the main characters from Beartown evolved in this book – how they dealt with the brutal aspects of the events of the first book, how it affected everyone and the ripple effect that the one incident caused.
I’m still at a loss to explain why this book affected me so much! The way the author gets under the skin of so many different characters is astonishing, and the situations he puts them in is perfectly judged to add to the drama that envelops the community. He has an amazing connection with all the characters and they all seem to get equal billing in their struggles and the way the story flows from one to the other seamlessly makes you feel part of the community – a very messed up community! I felt emotionally drained with the pace of it all as it never let up from page to page and I couldn’t put the book down for too long before I was desparate to get back into that world, no matter what sickening twist would be next for me to face!
This isn’t a sports novel as I have seen some mention this and why it puts them off reading it. It’s a book with a sport at the heart of it but it focuses more on the impact that the team brings on the inhabitants – how it connects a community, and how it can split it apart. The author does a great job of conveying through certain characters of how much the team means to them and why they put themselves through so much just to benefit the team.
I found this to be a truly astonishing read and the quality of writing was staggering. I was very wary before picking this book of how the story could be added to after book one, but this was the perfect sequel. It was more than hockey, it was more than outrage, it was community, it was fighting on and showing strength and weaknesses.
It was all encompassing, shocking, inspiring, heartbreaking – thank you Mr Backman for such an amazing cast and story!
I’m often asked why I love reading…… books like this are why!!!!