Audiobook Review, General Fiction (Adult)

Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)Beartown by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me start by saying, there is a Fredrik Backman craze going on right now and I wanted to be part of it. I picked up A Man Called Ove from the library and when I started listening to it, I was so utterly confused about what people saw in Backman’s writing. I could not understand the appeal at all and ended up giving up on it halfway through. But, so many of my fellow bookish friends/fellow reviewers said that Beartown was something really special and urged me to read it. So I gave it a try. And oh. my. goodness. am I glad that I did. These are strong words, I am almost inclined to say that Beartown is a masterpiece.

Let me also say that this review may have some spoilers as it’s hard to sing my praises of the book without discussing how the content makes it so special.

Beartown is the story of a small town in the forest that has come on hard times. Businesses are not flourishing and the only thing the town has to be proud of is their hockey club. The junior team and the A team are the town’s pride and joy. Everybody follows their success and there is tremendous pressure on the boys to win. But, when one of the boys is accused of raping the daughter of the general manager, the town will be flipped on its head. Who will the town believe? The story of the girl or the story of the boy? Particularly since believing the story of the girl could put the star organization of their town in jeopardy.

So many things to say about this book. First, it pissed me off. A lot. It reminded me of the Brock Turner Stanford rape case that was sensationalized in the media, and all the questions that came along with it. What was the girl doing with him? Why was she so drunk? She really shouldn’t have put herself in that situation. Ok, hold the phone. We need to stop this thought process and focus on the actions of the perpetrator, not the victim. Second, the book was very well timed given the elevated awareness of sexual crimes and the #metoo movement. People NEED to read this book. They NEED to understand that we need to do better as a society.

I don’t typically quote books in my reviews, but some of the writing was so insightful, so thoughtful, so transcendent, that it deserves to be quoted. While there are too many quotes to choose from, here are some of the lines of text that really made me think:

“She’s fifteen, above the age of consent, and he’s seventeen, but he’s still “the boy” in every conversation. She’s “the young woman”. Words are not small things.”
― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

“Difficult questions, simple answers. What is a community? It is the sum total of our choices.”
― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

“Perhaps one day the man in the black jacket will think about this too: why he only wondered if it was Kevin or Amat who was telling the truth. Why Maya’s word wasn’t enough.”
― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

I listened to this book on audio, and frankly I think I might go back and read it in print. The narrator was good, but not my absolute favorite, and the book had so much detail, so many characters, so many insightful lines, that I felt like if I zoned out for one second, I was lost. This would probably be a good place to highlight the fact that there are a LOT of characters in this book. It took me until about a quarter of the way in to keep them all straight. So reader be warned, you really have to pay attention when you’re reading this book.

I could probably go on and on and on for another several hundred words about Beartown. But you should probably just read it for yourself. It is nothing short of magnificent.

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