Book Review

Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown Cover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars 5 Stars

Publish Date: April 25, 2017 by Simon and Schuster

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Definitely one of my top favorites ever.

We love winners, even though they’re very rarely particularly likeable people. They’re almost always obsessive and selfish and inconsiderate. That doesn’t matter. We forgive them. We like them while they’re winning.” ― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

Beartown 1

Beartown is a tiny community nestled deep in the forest. Down by the lake is an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded the town. The rink is the home of the Bears, a junior ice hockey team that is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they have a shot at winning. All of the hopes and dreams of Beartown now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Some of you were born with talent, some weren’t. Some of you are lucky and got everything for free, some of you got nothing. But remember, when you’re out on the ice you’re all equals. And there’s one thing you need to know: desire always beats luck.” ― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

The party after the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a girl with PTSD and the whole town in turmoil. Accusations are made and divides Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the people in this small community, the secrets that tear everyone apart, and the courage that it takes for an individual to go against the grain. It’s a story that will stay in your mind for a long time.

Beartown 2

“Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.”

These are the first two sentences in the book, and IT.SHOOK.ME. I was hooked!

This book is buzzy. It was nominated for Best Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2017, is one of the Top 20 on the Amazon Editors’ picks for the best books of 2017, and is on the New York Times bestseller list. The Goodreads rating is 4.3/5, with 37,225 ratings. So impressive. 

This book is not in the genre that I normally gravitate towards, but with accolades like that,  I could not resist.

This is my first time with Fredrik Bachman’s writing and oh my goodness, it was a spectacular experience.

Beartown is an impactful tale of family, friendship, love, loyalty, and hope with a wide range of unique and relatable characters. If you love hockey, you’ll devour Beartown. If you don’t care about hockey, you’ll still end up loving Beartown anyway. It’s a story that transcends time, age, location, race, and gender.

Beartown represents a microcosm of a society’s inhabitants and behaviors. The story takes place in Sweden, but it could have been anywhere in the world.

The book is so much more than the sport of hockey, and is more about the testament of the human spirit. The story deals with the human struggles between good and evil, right and wrong, fear and courage, and friendship and loyalty.

The prose is insightful, thematic, humorous, and makes you ponder so many things. The characters will surprise you. And nothing is what it seems. It’s a longer story, but it gets better and better as the characters develop and the relationships deepen. It’s definitely worth the time that you will spend with this book.

If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway. ”  ― Fredrik Backman, Beartown

I never set out to love a book. But I know I loved this one because of a few things:

  1. I highlighted a record number of passages – about 13-15.
  2. I found myself nodding in agreement many, many times at the thoughtful reflections that the author wove throughout the book.
  3. The book evoked a range of emotions for me – happiness, sadness, outrage, grief, sympathy, empathy, and humor. I laughed, cried, and felt everything in between.
  4. I wasn’t mentally “done” with the book even after I finished the story. I spent a lot of time reflecting after I finished this one.

I feel that my review doesn’t even do this book justice. It’s hard to put my feelings into words, but I am so glad that I read this book and I hope you give it a chance too.

I read this as a Kindle book, but I hear of high marks for the audio too. I recommend this book no matter what the format.

I just found out that Fredrick Backman wrote a sequel to Beartown called Us Against You and it will be published in June 2018. The story of Amat, Benji, and the cast of characters that we get to know in Beartown continues in the second book, Us Against You. I’m so excited!

You have to read this book!

13 thoughts on “Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman”

      1. I refused to read Beartown for so long because I really hated the others but I had several friends who insisted and I’m glad they did…it was nothing like Ove or My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry…horrible title and even worse book haha.


  1. I need to create time to read this book. I have been swamped by ARCs so I keep postponing it but your review has definitely convinced me. I am so glad that you enjoyed this one Abby. It sounds like quite a captivating read.

    Liked by 1 person

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