Have you ever cried while reading a book in public? This almost happened to me while reading Beartown. I should have known better. At a certain point while reading another book by Fredrik Backman (My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry), I started crying and didn’t stop until the end of the book. I was halfway through Beartown when I was getting my hair done. I was excited that I would be sitting in a chair for a couple hours and knew I would finish it until I could feel the tears welling up. I looked up in the mirror to see if it was obvious that I was on the verge of tears. I was shocked at how sad my face looked and my eyes were glassy. I had to put my book down and finish it at home so I wouldn’t worry my hair stylist about why I was bawling while she’s trying to make my hair look great.
by Fredrik Backman
Pages: 418 Genre: Literary Fiction, Suburban Family Drama Published: April 25, 2017
Much later, in ten years’ time, she will think that the biggest problem here was actually that she wasn’t as shocked as all the adults were. They were more innocent than she was. She was fifteen and had access to the Internet; she already knew that the world is a cruel place if you are a girl.
This book starts off explaining how important hockey is to this small town in the forest. Almost everyone is invested in it and the kids who play on the various hockey teams. This isn’t really a book about hockey though, but more about how the town depends on the success of the team in many ways, including financially and emotionally. This is a book about how a community can have so much hope for a shining star that they can’t believe he would ever do anything that would ruin their town. It would be so much easier to believe that someone is lying so everything can go back to how it was before.
Backman is excellent at building characters and this story is filled with a lot of them. The first half of the book was a bit slow for me, but I felt it was important since there were many people that I had to get to know and care about. Even ones that I didn’t completely agree with, I did find myself sympathizing with them at some points. Then, the main incident in the book happens and that’s when the book really became good for me.
I don’t want to get into details about the incident since I didn’t know until I read it and I felt that made a big difference in my enjoyment. I did feel that the reactions of the town and specific characters were very believable. The actual outcome of the incident was very true to life. There are no easy answers to what happened, but I felt there was a little bit of light at the end of a very dark tunnel that was the end of this book.
This is only the second book that I read by Backman. While the story was completely different than the first one, it did have the commonality of well-rounded characters that felt real. I see that this is the first in the series and I guess we have to wait for the second one to be translated. I can’t wait to go back to Beartown and see what else is going on in this town.