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Beartown #1


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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

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.

432 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 15, 2016

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About the author

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44,478 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,482 reviews79k followers
July 27, 2023
I'm sure anyone who has either read this book or heard anything about it by now realizes this is a huge departure for Backman from his usual tale. About a month ago I was recording a podcast with the lovely Anne Bogel and one of the recommendations she gave me was to read Beartown. While we all know Backman for his uplifting fiction that is both touching and emotional, this was described to me as "a serious, heavy read that lacked his whimsical trademark". There are few things I love more than reading a book that is wholly different than what an author is known for, so I knew I had to pick this one up quickly and see what all the fuss was about. When Sam from Clues and Reviews suggested a buddy read I knew that time had come (SPOILER ALERT-SHE LOVED IT TOO). I'm so glad that I picked this up when I did; I'm currently in major book hangover mode and can't seem to settle in with another story until I work through my feelings on this one. Bare with me as this review will be long winded.

"It's only a game. It only resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That's all."

Hockey has never been my thing. I grew up in the deep south where football is praised more highly than any other sport, but baseball was where my friends and I found ourselves watching games in high school. Most of my guy friends were on the team, and I remember the awe inspiring excitement we felt at every win and the crushing agony of each loss. I attended a small private school that wasn't known for it's ability to crush it's opponents in sports, but during my high school years we had an exceptionally good baseball team (2 of our players ended up playing professionally years later). It was difficult for our school to get behind the idea of team spirit and to fan the flame of hope when we were crushed in each game season after season, but I remember the anticipation that began to grow amongst the student body those years. This experience is what allowed me to fully succumb to the excitement of the hockey scenes in this story. Hockey is a large piece of this book and I'd go as far as suggesting that hockey is it's own character in the novel, but it wasn't from an overly technical point of view. I found that the overall plot and the hockey scenes awoke that same feeling I used to have while watching high school baseball and it brought to life a sport I never dreamed I could become entranced by. I think Backman said it best when he wrote "Hockey is like faith. Religion is something between you and other people; it's full of interpretations and theories and opinions. But faith... that's just between you and God. It's what you feel in your chest when the referee glides out to the center circle between two players, when you hear the sticks strike each other and see the black disk fall between them. Then it's just between you and hockey. Because cherry trees always smell of cherry trees, whereas money smells of nothing."

"A great deal is expected of anyone who's been given a lot."

This seems to be the central theme surrounding the book. There are a great deal of characters in this novel; the ever-changing and growing cast seems to add multidimensional aspects to the story that cause it to leap off the page and bury deep into your mind. There were certain characters and views that I was naturally more drawn to (i.e. Amat, Benji, and Kira), yet I found each tongue necessary in the overall narrative to give the clearest picture; this also caused myself to question my knee-jerk reactions and judgements I dropped along the way. In an attempt to not spoil anything for future readers, I'll just state that the content is heavy and much darker than a traditional Backman story, but it still holds that magical quality where you seem to be watching the exchanges and thoughts happening from just outside the realm of reason. There is nothing in this tale that hasn't been written before, but the way in which it is told was especially unique and the subject matter is timely and necessary.

"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."

The above is just a fraction of the wisdom handed down from Amat's mother, and I highly recommend picking up a copy just to read the rest, but my purpose for posting above is to clarify how this sums up the moral of the story. Even with all the injustice surrounding the evil act committed in this novel, there are consistently small glimmers of hope. Please do not misunderstand; this is not a happy go lucky book. There are no feel good finishing pages, although there is still that seed of sunlight planted. What I found separated this from being just another depressing story was the shining examples of forgiveness. There are many examples of diversity on all ends of the spectrum included in this story as well, and the author has woven them through in such a way where it doesn't feel forced or awkward; there is nothing screaming "Look at me! Look at how diverse my characters are! Please pat me on the back for simply including them!" No, these characters were infused with a subtle realism that caused me to take a step back after turning the final page and bask in the awe I felt from what Backman created with this book. While I could ramble on for days, I'd rather stop here and highly suggest that you pick up your own copy and experience first hand the sheer brilliance of Beartown. This book wrecked me; it pulverized my soul and made me realize how easy it would be for this story to come to life. Highly, HIGHLY recommended for anyone willing to give this novel a fair shot. I'm not sure this story, nor these characters, will ever fully leave my consciousness, and I simply cannot wait to experience whatever Backman choses to craft next.


Oh my lord. If you need me, I'll be wallowing in a giant puddle of all my feelings and emotions. Someone hold me. I was planning on just doing a mini review on this one but I feel a long winded breakdown coming on this weekend. This will likely be one of my top reads of the year.

Profile Image for Rowan.
118 reviews231 followers
March 23, 2023
My first Fredrik Backman read – and now I understand the hype! Never have I read a book with such well-developed characters and strong sense of place. Backman made me feel like a resident of Beartown, the cold small town surrounded by forest, whose very existence depends on hockey. I came to know these people and deeply care for them. This book will occupy my mind for days to come.

I enjoyed his writing style and ability to elicit a wide range of emotions – one minute he could make my eyes well-up, heat-rate increase; the next have me laughing out loud, or pausing to reflect on a meaningful passage. After a somewhat slow, yet steady start, it quickly demands your attention and is hard to put down.

“Sometimes it feels as if the people of Beartown love the fact that the climate is so inhospitable, because not everyone can handle it: that reminds them of their own strength and resilience.”

This story is about much more than hockey. It depicts toxic masculinity, peer-pressure, rape culture and silence, homophobia, small town issues, and much more. It’s impossible not to reflect on your values and integrity as such issues are explored. Some parts reflected my own experiences playing sport as a teenager – reminding me why I replaced sport altogether by sixteen.

Many fellow Australians haven’t seen snow or played a hockey game – yet Beartown can be easily transplanted here. It’s universal. Beartown itself is one of the most well-written characters. Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is that you’re made to feel passionately about each person. You might love them (Amat, Fatima, Benji, Ramona) or loathe them (Kevin and family, Maggan Lyt). Each individual has their battles and secrets, and I felt very invested in the likes of Amat and his hardworking mother, Fatima.

“It takes her thirty seconds to realize what she’s looking at. Then she claps her hands to her face and weeps. A boy training with the junior team, a head shorter than all the others. Her boy. Her back has never been straighter. She could run a thousand miles.”

We come to know these characters on such an intimate level, you can’t help but feel they’re real. Aspects are inevitably going to resonate. While I also admired Ramona, owner of the Bearskin, I particularly loved the character of Benji too.

“His eyes always let you know that he could leave you any moment if he felt like it, without so much as a backward glance. He isn’t tied to anything, he just doesn’t care.”

Beartown managed to motivate and inspire, while other times anger and frustrate – but I was always engrossed and engaged. The impending sense of doom was palpable and culminated in a powerful ending. This book is full of heart and well-deserving of the accolades. I’m already looking forward to reading more of the series.

Books stay with us for various reasons and in the case of Beartown - there are plenty.

“This place has a way of grabbing hold of your insides that’s hard to explain.”

Thank you to my dear friend, Tracy, who gifted me this book – all the way from Canada! I appreciate you and our friendship as much as Beartown appreciates the sound of a puck hitting the back of the net.
Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,334 followers
June 25, 2017
Wow!--Just, wow! Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that takes you by surprise, becoming far more meaningful than you ever anticipated. 'Beartown' is precisely that type of book. Bravo, Mr. Backman!

When 'Beartown' first started showing up on so many of my friends' feeds, I was mildly curious. Not being a sports fan, by any stretch of the imagination, I filed it away in the back of my mind in the "maybe one day" category. Knowing only that it centered on a junior hockey team in a small town, I had envisioned something akin to 'The Mighty Ducks' played out on paper.

However, as the 5-star reviews kept rolling in, I grew increasingly interested. I had to see what all the buzz was about. After all, there's no way that 'The Mighty Ducks' would stir up that type of a response.

So, I downloaded the Audible version and bumped it to the top of my audiobook TBR list. It proved to be the best decision I could have made. This book was phenomenal!

'Beartown' started a little slow for me. With so many characters, it was hard to keep everyone straight at first. Yet, it crept up on me slowly. Before I knew it, I was completely engrossed in the lives of these characters and the small town dynamics.

I couldn't pull myself away from it. 'Beartown' is the type of book that tempts you to play sick and call-in to work so that you can keep reading/listening. I became completely engrossed in this story as it unfolded.

Beartown is like many small towns across the globe. The decline of industry and tourism has wreaked havoc on this small town's economy. Only in Beartown, the hopes and dreams of an entire community are pinned on the success of a junior hockey team.

These teen boys are treated like celebrities and the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Parents, business sponsors, booster club members and a variety of other individuals all contribute to this high-pressure environment. Morality and justice take a back seat to winning. Nothing is more important than hockey.

With a robust cast of characters, the viewpoints offered in 'Beartown' are diverse. The relationships are rich and enlightening. Everything weaves together to make a complex web, with hockey at the center. Events are inter-connected and this book explores the ripple-effect of actions.

More than anything else, 'Beartown' forces readers to evaluate their values and take a look in the mirror. It tackles some very difficult content and serves as a reminder of the hazards of blind idolization. From peer pressure, to homophobia, to rape culture, to personal integrity, this book forces readers to take a candid look at problems that plague all societies.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster. At times, I felt inspired. Other times I was absolutely outraged. It made me feel joyful and also sad. You name it and I felt it at some point while listening to 'Beartown'. It was the type of book that moves you.

Without a doubt, I would recommend 'Beartown' to everyone. It is definitely one that has made it's mark on me, like only the best books do. The narration was also extremely well done and really made for a pleasurable listening experience.

Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com
Profile Image for Dianne.
567 reviews934 followers
January 31, 2019
I'm the outlier again, I guess. I DID like this but didn't love it as many readers clearly did. Backman certainly has a gift for developing characters that feel real and for creating atmosphere, but I didn't love the narrative structure he uses here. He has a large cast of rotating characters and each character has a brief mini story arc that often (too often for me) concludes with the equivalent of a Jack Handey "Deep Thought" or a grave pronouncement that is contrived to make you nod knowingly at the author's wisdom. Honestly, I don't do well with "folksy" books and this is one of those varmints.

I did like very much the ice hockey setting and the Swedish forest where Beartown is set. I liked the plot and the characters, I just didn't care for how it was packaged and delivered. A little too close to cheesy for my cold, dead, cynical heart.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
February 18, 2021
i still have yet to read a book that so beautifully and realistically captures what it means to be human better than this story.
and i will forever have love for the boy with sad eyes and a wild heart. <3

now THIS is how you tell a story.

the writing is definitely the strength of this book and it makes me wish i was fluent in swedish, because i know it would be an even more remarkable story in its native/original language (if thats even possible).

reading this book feels as if fredrik backman has invited me into his home, made me a cup of tea, and sat next to me as he tells me a story that comes straight from his heart. you can tell so much love went into writing this, because only someone who loves people could write about them this beautifully and this honestly.

my heart is so full.

5 stars
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,168 reviews37.3k followers
September 1, 2021
Update Sept 2021: Again: Bang bang bang bang bang bang.
Why? Because sometimes your favorite characters of all time, soothe the soul and in case it's not obvious, I love the Bears from Beartown. Benji.

Update Re-Read: Nov 2020 - Because sometimes, your favorite characters give you everything you need and in case it's not obvious, I bleed Bear. Benji: You have my heart.

Update FIVE STAR Feb 2019 Review (re-read):
Because it’s LOVE, plain and simple.

Have you ever had a book stay with you? Has it ever just lived inside of you every single day, day in day out, since the moment you first read it? You take a breath and a character comes to mind and you feel what he feels? For me, “Beartown” is that book and the character of Benji Ovich is that guy. He rips my heart wide open and I don’t think I’ve ever loved a character more.

Fredrik Backman, you’ve wrecked me!! “Beartown” and “Us Against You” have turn me into a complete sobbing mess.. For that, I thank you.

I love your characters and the way you intertwine the storylines and make everyone equally important. Benji, Amat, Bobo and Ramona and oh so many others, you have my heart. This re-read was shared with my book-buddy Kaceey. It was such an honor to read this with you Kaceey - I was so scared to read this with you, afraid that you wouldn’t love the characters as much as I do, but I am so grateful that you loved them too!

Original review:
5 Resounding Stars!
Fredrik Backman: You’ve left me drained, almost completely bereft of words. This is a novel, unlike any of your others, yet it’s so full of heart and emotion that we the readers know emphatically that it is yours. And after the last words have sunk into my soul, I can emphatically say, thank you! This one is to be treasured.

Now, what can I possibly say about this story, without giving it away?

Beartown is a town that eats, sleeps and goes to bed thinking about one thing: Hockey. Hockey is what makes this town tick. Vibrate. Come Alive. Beartown, and its residents wouldn’t be a community without it. Every person, every family pins their hearts on the Junior Boy’s Hockey team and its inhabitants have nothing left. It’s a huge cross for these kids to bear (no pun intended) and sometimes, well, something or someone has to break. Sadly, strength and resilience give way to anger and pain, leaving no stone unturned, yet that little bear inside those who've been dealt the most blows, refuses to give up.

Whether or not you like Hockey, I can almost assure you that it will grow on you after reading this. And if you know someone who plays? Well, you will understand the drive and the desire better than a lot of us. But the raw human emotion that is dripping from each and every page of this novel? You will all feel that. Fredrik Backman evokes it from each and every reader and here, he does so in a way that he has never done before. And I am truly honored and extremely grateful to have experienced it.

A huge thank you to NetGalley, Atria Books and the amazing Fredrik Backman for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. It has been a privilege.

Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 2/16/17.

**Will be published on Amazon on 4/25/17.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews605 followers
October 23, 2019
"For people who have never lived where darkness and cold are the norm, where else is the exception, it is hard to understand that it is possible to find someone who has frozen to death with their jacket open, or even naked. But when you get really cold your blood-vessels contract and your heart does all it can to stop blood reaching the frozen parts of your body and then coming back to your heart cold.
Not unlike a hockey team suffering a penalty and playing at a numerical disadvantage:
prioritize resources, play defensively, defend the heart, lungs and brain. What happens when the defense finally collapses, when you get cold enough, is that your box play falls apart, your goalie does something stupid, your backs stop communicating with each other, and the body parts that were previously shut off from circulation are suddenly switched back on again. And then, when warm blood from your heart flows back to your frozen feet and hands, you experience an intense rush of heat. That's why you suddenly imagine that you're overheating and start to take your clothes off.
Then the chilled blood goes back to your heart and it's all over. Every couple of years or so, someone in Beartown goes home drunk after a party and takes a shortcut across the ice, or gets lost in the forest, or sits down to rest for a moment, and is found lifeless in a snowdrift the following morning".

Hockey is more than just a game in the 'Beartown'....it's the focus of the community's small town universe. Everyone is affected.....The game itself requires sacrifice -- long training sessions for the kids - Dedication from coaches, ( old school and new school thoughts of best way to train young kids) , wives, children, and friends of the team are aware they live in HOCKEY TOWN.
-- The General manager works long hours --- even when he is home.
Hockey distraction pulls him away from the family.
The President of the club pulls weight and adds pressure.
The Board of directors and sponsors try to pull power ranks in hiring and firing.
Fanatical parents can get nasty, and competitive with other parents.
Teachers have a hard time demanding respect in their classroom from their students who are star athletes.
Educators are influenced by wealthy community members.
Store and bar owners contribute to the town at large.
Friends and family in the community are aware of the type of town they live in. It's very clear! Hockey is a family member in and of itself!!
There are personal & team struggles - on and off the ice:
Parties - alcohol- drugs- sex - rape - lies - cool kids - fat kids- lonely kids - rich and poor kids - kids trying to fit in - love - loss - lies - betrayal - secrets - death - financial strains- forgiveness, marriage and family issues - loneliness- friendships - jealousy - anger - loyalty - admiration- inspiring relationships- and not so inspiring.

There is the challenge of the economy of the town itself and the expectation- hopes and dreams that a junior hockey team might have to boast the towns economy.
Factory workers who have lost jobs may get re-hired. Tourism may increase. Beartown would be held in higher regard.

......For a player like Benji -- whose father committed suicide when he was little - hockey gave him a context, a structure, rules, and it rewarded him with the best sides of himself: his boundless heart and unshakeable loyalty. It provided a focus for his energy, channeling it into something constructive. All through his childhood he would sleep with his hockey stick beside him.

......Having buried a father and son within a year period, being the General Manager of the junior Hockey team gave Peter Andersson the feeling of keeping something alive. His wife Kira, a lawyer, who commuted to work just outside of Beartown, thought less of the over zealous hockey obsessive hockey community. She loved her husband but never really understood why the game made grown men a bag of nerves. Their daughter Maya, 15 years old, enjoyed playing her guitar. We will embrace her pain and feel her anger as her story develops. Her best friend Ana spent the night at her house almost every night. This friendship puzzled me for awhile as to why she never slept at her own house - but made sense as the story continued.
Leo, 12 years old, the son of the Andersson family shares his dad's passion for Hockey like most of the town. Easy going kid.

.......Star hockey player Kevin Erdahl, good grades, from a prominent family, had guys scrambling for best friend position- ( which was usually Benji), and girls throwing themselves at him. The only people that weren't 'pudding-at-his-feet' were his parents. Kevin's parents were the wealthy family in town - they financially sponsored the hockey team - high achievers- result oriented- but emotionally distant. Kevin may have had the most natural talent on the team - but he had other handicaps.

David and Sune - both hockey coaches argued about whether a 17-year-old could be ready to play in the A-team. Sune-- the older coach lived by the traditional team motto for years...since the beginning of the club: ....."Culture, Values, Community". The worn old banner hung in the locker room.
David, the younger coach knew he could never really properly explain, that the true drive for a star player like Kevin had nothing to do with values - culture or community....but......
"his absolute desire to win. Not that he hates losing, but that he can't even begin to conceive of trying to accept not winning. He's merciless. You can't teach that."

David believed "hockey has always been that the world outside the rink mustn't
encroach upon the world inside it. They need to be separate universes. Outside, real life is complicated and frightening and hard, but inside the rink it is straightforward and comprehensible. If David hadn't kept the world so clearly divided, these guys, with all the shit they've had to deal with out in the real world, would've been broken even as little kids. But the rink was a refuge. Their one happy place".

Amat, the youngest player - the fastest, who played with heart, stepped up a level, lived with his single mother. He's the guy who would naturally gather up pucks and cones after practice. Not because anyone told him to because it gave him a chance to avoid others. When it came to talking about girls, parties, or boasting about snorts-of-coke or blowjobs, Amat was reluctant to join in the laughter..... yet that overwhelming feeling of being allowed to belong was something he wanted too. The warm feeling to 'belong' was a strong attraction.

As you can see - many themes get covered. Each of the characters are so well developed- I feel like I know them - as people. I know this town. The strengths - weakness - the sadness - the sport!

For many years my next door neighbor played for The San Jose Sharks.
His wife and and 5 kids too. Ice Hockey is a popular sport in San Jose because of the Sharks. Our younger daughter was a huge fan -knowing every team members name - and many team members. - so from the basic beauty of the sport - including the tunnel vision quest for competitive excellence, scores, statistics, and victories....I enjoyed the subject- vehicle - in which Fredrik Backman told this story.

I felt that Backman brought a remarkable voice to the world of 'training-dedication'. . be it Hockey, dance, music, or martial arts.......competitor or simply an enthusiast. This book is compulsively intimate providing different perspectives - different stories illuminating the benefits of any skill training - the challenges- for all those who are involved.... "Bear Town" in this case!

THE BEST PART: Deeply EMOTIONALLY FELT!!! 'DEEPLY'!!! You can read a thousand reviews- NONE OF THEM WILL BE SPOILERS- ( enjoy them all), because this novel is an 'experience-on-steroids'.

MUST BE EXPERIENCED yourself! -- gorgeous insightful prose!!

Thank You Netgalley, Atria Books, and Fredrik Backman
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020
Read this one for TCE Book Club!

Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.
Beartown, a small town in the middle of the forest, has been on its way out for years.

Businesses are leaving, layoffs are happening and people are fleeing for anywhere but there.

But, there is one thing that holds everyone together - the junior ice hockey team. People may say that it's crazy to pin all your hopes and dreams on a hockey team, but they don't understand.
Never trust people who don't have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason.
Beartown is a hockey town.

For the first time in thirty years, Beartown has a real chance. They're about to compete in the national semi-finals. Sponsors are (finally) taking an interest in funding the club.

If the Beartown Bears can win - it could mean everything - a professional training center, a shopping mall, business flooding back to the once-abandoned town.

All of their hopes, and dreams, and fears, rest on a few teenage shoulders:

Kevin - the best player their town has seen in years.

Benji - the best coordinator and team player.

Amat - the fastest player that has ever graced the ice.

And it seems simple, the team just has to win the finals and all their (and the town's) wildest dreams will come true.

All that changes in an instant.

Maya, the daughter of the General Manager of the Beartown hockey team, is raped by one of the team's star players and the whole town is thrown into turmoil.
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”
She's covered in bruises, and he's the star of the team.

With little-to-no evidence, the town has to decide what to believe, and no matter what they decide , something will be irrevocably ruined.

Whew. This one was an absolute roller coaster for me and that was (in part) due to the way Backman set it up.

The first third-or-so focuses exclusively on setting the scene - what the town stands for, how much the hockey team practiced and practiced, how Maya begrudgingly loves hockey because her GM dad does, and so on.

It felt like one of those underdog-sports-stories and I was loving it. There was some hint at a future tragedy, but it wasn't too overt (in my opinion).

Thus, when the rape scene happens and the entire book's premise does a 180, I was shocked and disappointed.

I was actually super into watching these boys pull up the town and succeed in the hockey world and when the book flipped, I was devastated.

I'm really, really not into rape books. That's, in part, because I've read so many books that use it as a cheap plot device that I'm absolutely sick of reading about it. I actively avoid books about rape as much as possible.

I put it down and couldn't read it for days.

But, this was a TCE Book Club book...so I picked it up again and slowly got back into the story.
Another morning comes. It always does. Time always moves at the same rate, only feelings have different speeds. Every day can mark a whole lifetime or a single heartbeat, depending on who you spend it with.
And Backman really does the rape justice (and I know, that sounds weird).

He humanizes and demonizes it, he brings it into being in a way that I haven't read before.

The way the cast of characters react and the way others distance themselves made the story come alive. It was incredible to read.
You never have the sort of friends you have when you’re fifteen ever again. Even if you keep them for the rest of your life, it’s never the same as it was then.
It truly was amazing, and I'm so happy I kept with it. I honestly think I will continue the series - the writing was that good.

That being said, I really did not appreciate the way the book went about introducing the concept, but the rest of it more than makes up for it.

Audiobook Comments
Not my favorite audio - the reader (Marin Ireland) did not do that great of a job. The characters were often indistinct (an "angry" voice was consistent between Maya, her teenage best friend and her dad) and the reading was so slow. So. Incredibly. Slow.

In addition, I had issues with the way the CD's were divided. On a CD player, roughly every chapter was a new 'track'...which was an issue considering they were 10-20 minutes long. I would've preferred shorter tracks, which makes pausing and finding your spot significantly easier.

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Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,990 followers
November 22, 2017
"People round here don't always know the difference between right and wrong. But we know the difference between good and evil."

Fredrik Backman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His characters and storytelling are practically perfect. I can easily recommend this book to anyone.

There are so many different facets to this book. Questions of morality and loyalty, passion over logic, and right vs wrong. No path through the story is easy and no solution obvious. The background story of every character is perfectly developed and important in the fine tapestry the Backman weaves. You may be surprised to discover that a story about a little hockey town far away can make you think about how you approach life in general.

One final bit of awesomeness about this book. With some books you may reach the end having found one or two really great quotes. Well, when you read this, be prepared with a highlighter, page flags, etc. as almost every page has a fantastic quote that is worth remembering after the story is done.

Honestly, truthfully, literally . . . Backman is good, REALLY good!
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,308 reviews44k followers
July 19, 2023
A small Swedish town in a forest maybe in the middle of nowhere or anywhere you can imagine because it doesn’t exist till the hockey rejuvenates the town, puts the spotlights to enlighten the place, and gives the joy, encouragement, reasons to live for to its people… (Families, kids, residents gather together to a common purpose)

Hockey games are not just the games for town’s people regardless race, age, gender, culture, beliefs, classes help them to feel the joy and togetherness by chanting, screaming, shouting, clapping, cursing, jumping. The game make them forget their differences, the problems they have to deal and the stressful matters they regularly endure. They’re just feeling the beat of the game and getting away from everything by reaching their secure and happy places they’ve created on their minds.


When Maya confesses the abuse she’s endured, the balances hold the town together destroys because the rising star of the hockey team is responsible of this violent action and Maya’s father (mostly his team’s needs are his priority. He neglected his family, drifting apart with his own wife because of his job that absorbs the rest of his energy) needs to decide between his team and his daughter.

There are so many amazing, realistic, relatable characters will always have a special place in my heart and on my mind: Bobo, Benji, Amat, and of course Ramona. All of them push themselves so hard to find their places in the team, society, friends circle but they struggle for their differences. Those differences can be sexual choices, race and fat-shaming! But the town has its own wild, savage nature kills its own residents’ soul because of the hard life conditions, competitiveness, struggles to stay alive!


This author has so much talent, achieving to make you feel all those different feelings at the same time. I felt RAGE, DESPERATION, PURE HATE, LONELINESS, PASSION, AMBITION, VICTIMIZATION, EXHAUSTION, LOVE, JOY and SADNESS! He left me in an emotional turmoil!

Beartown will always have a place at my all-time ten best favorite books. It’s about family values, hypocrisy, friendship, neighborhood, collective hatred, struggling to find your way in the world.

Some books shape your lives and push your out of your comfort zone to question your dignity, your beliefs and finally help to remember who you are! This is one of those precious books I never get tired to read over and over again!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
February 26, 2017
Here's a little bit of a confession: while I really enjoyed Fredrik Backman's book A Man Called Ove , and the charming curmudgeon who was its main character, I have found in recent years that there seems to be a glut of charming yet misunderstood curmudgeons doddering their way through modern fiction.

So despite people's warm feelings about Backman's next two books, I passed, because I have enough to worry about becoming a (hopefully) charming curmudgeon someday soon. However, I did pounce on his novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer , and I fell in love with it (curmudgeon-ish character and all), and it easily found its way onto my list of the best books I read last year.

Even with full confidence in Backman's storytelling ability, I was surprised to learn his newest book, Beartown , didn't follow the same pattern of his other books, but rather focused on a small town which many think is dying out, a town literally obsessed with hockey. I wondered how this would work. But then as I read this book over the course of one late evening in the throes of insomnia, I was blown away, because this was so much more than a hockey novel. Backman pulled off a colossal feat, a literary mic drop.

Beartown is a small forest town that seems to be getting subsumed by the trees around it. One of the few highlights of Beartown is an old hockey rink which was for many years home to the only pastime enjoyed by the factory workers who lived there and the townspeople who cheered with and jeered at them.

"Sometimes the entire community feels like a philosophical experiment: If a town falls in the forest but no one hears it, does it matter at all?"

But even for a hockey-obsessed town, the excitement is becoming nearly too much to bear. Beartown's junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and many in town think they're going to win. The team may be good, but their star player, Kevin, is exceptional, and thanks to his best friend and defender (both on the rink and off), Benji, he's even better. The outcome of the game has the potential to change many lives—the players, including a new player brought on to the team unexpectedly; the general manager, once a hometown hero who briefly dallied in the NFL; several of the club's coaches, who have differing ideas about what coaches are supposed to do; even town leaders, who see the bright horizon a win could bring.

Despite what happens in that game, one night everything changes. An incident, an accusation, cause sides to be taken, lines to be drawn, people to show their true colors, friendships to strengthen and/or wither. Suddenly Beartown isn't sure what it is or should be—should hockey and its players come first? Is that all that matters? Do the haves get, while the have-nots suffer?

Backman has written an outstanding, emotional, thought-provoking novel about so much more than a town and a game. It's a book about the responsibilities and burdens of parenthood and the ripple effects missteps in parenting can cause; it's a book about belonging, about finally feeling a part of something when you've spent so much time on the outside looking in; it's a book about the staggering power—positive and negative—of friendship; and it's a book about the toll keeping secrets can have on you.

It's funny, I was thinking I would get a Swedish Friday Night Lights but instead found so much more. Backman once again proves he is a writer to be reckoned with, and I'll let him lead me wherever he wants to go next time. No questions asked.

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
July 5, 2020
”Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled 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.”


It’s been two weeks since I finished this book (or did the book finish me?!) and I still haven’t managed to get over the experience of “Beartown”. Truth be told, I think I never will. This is a book that stays with you. It buries itself into your soul, little by little, page by page, word by word. It claws its way into your heart, consumes you, ignites you, sets you aflame just to be able to extinguish the fire once it burns. With kindness, with love, with compassion.
Every single sentence hurt, every page cut deep, and every paragraph let me lose hope in humanity and rebuilt it once again.

I find myself incapable to convey how much this book touched me. I can’t express how badly it hurt, how beautiful it was or how much it made me wish to jump right into the book and to hug some of the characters. There was no chapter that didn’t pack a punch. Fredrick Backman’s writing style... it’s not from this world. There is so much wisdom between the pages, so many gestures and actions that seem to be miniscule at the moment you read them, but in the end they add up and are so much more once you get to that final punchline right between the lines. And once realization dawns on you, once you connect the dots and get aware of the bigger picture, you find yourself gasping for air.

”This sport demands only one thing from you. Your all.”

So what happened after two weeks? I went to the library and saw “Beartown” in the shelves. I had tears in my eyes just looking at the book so my bestie asked me what it is about and I tried to explain it to her. “It’s a book about hockey in a small-town but it’s also about so much more than that”, I said, grasping for the right words to explain the inexplicable. How do you sum up a book like “Beartown”? How do you express the meaning between the lines? The subtle hints, the humanity written on those pages? The good as well as the bad parts of a two-sided coin that’s called humankind?

”It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.”

I know I’m being so vague here, BUT BOY, this is a book you better experience for yourself! This is the kind of book you read without knowing where it will lead, the kind of book that’s best read when you go into it blind and have no clue about what you’re getting yourself into. I can guarantee you one thing though, once you start to read it you won’t be able to stop and once you reached the ending you won’t be the same anymore. “Beartown” is one of those books that should be a classic and that, no doubt, will be one day! Some of the characters in here are amazing and each and every one of them is human and has its flaws. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. I loved so many of them and I hated or disliked a lot of them as well. Backman wrote a study of humanity and “Beartown” isn’t just a book about hockey it’s about people and their lives as well. And since I’m already talking about the characters I might as well give you a short introduction:

There might be mild spoilers ahead so if you don’t want to be spoiled you better stop here and don’t continue to read my review. Also the spoilers that are marked are the real deal so you better be careful with clicking those. ;-P

Benjamin (Benji):

”Her little Benjamin, the fighter with whom it’s far too easy for the girls of Beartown to fall in love. The boy with the most handsome face, the saddest eyes and the wildest heart they’ve ever seen.”

I loved Benji so much!!! He’s the best and I would die for this boy!! <333 I hated to see him suffer, yet he never gave up. He did what he had to do, he’s the most loyal guy you’ll ever find, but even though he loves his friends fiercely and would do everything for them he also knows what’s wrong and what’s right and it might have killed him... Hell, it DID kill him, but he still decided to do what was right and I’ll forever love him for it! I’d read “Us Against You” just to see him once again! Benji deserves the world!!!

”Here he is burdened with too much that no one sees, and here he has hockey. The team, the guys, Kevin. They mean everything to him, so he is everything they want him to be. And that’s a terrible thing. Having to keep a secret from those you love.”


”Ana was a tornado. A jagged, hundred-sided peg in a community where everyone was supposed to fit into round holes.”

Ana was such an amazing friend as well! I loved her friendship with Maya, how they could rely on each other, how she was basically a part of Maya’s family. Those two girls were so different but they were also the same and their relationship was so beautiful to witness.

Maya Andersson:

”I know you’d have killed for me, Mum. I know you’d have given your life for me. But we’re going to get through this, you and me. Because I’m your daughter I’ve got wolf’s blood.”

I’m in awe of Maya! This girl was so strong and Kira has every reason to be proud of her daughter. I don’t know what I would have done... but Maya, she did the best she could do. She even looked out for her brother and her friends and she never backed down. I’ve never seen a braver girl and I swear Maya’s relationship with her parents was one of the best things in this book! <3

Kira & Peter Andersson:

”Not a second has passed since she had children without her feeling like a bad mother. For everything. For not understanding, for being impatient, for not knowing everything, for not making better packed lunches, for still wanting more out of life than just being a mother.”

Kira and Peter were my favourite couple of this book! They’ve been married for years, went through thick and thin together and yet they still love each other so much that it killed me! T_T Their scenes were so amazing and you could literally feel their strong bond. Also the way they interacted with their children, how they would have defended them with teeth and claws (Kira) and how they would hug away their pain (Peter) was EVERYTHING! I swear I strive to be a parent like that! <3 Kira and Peter are role models and I can only hope that my own kid will love and trust me as much as Maya loved and trusted her parents. Hell, I’d die for both of them too! <333

”That may have been how they survived, Kira realizes: thanks to the ability not to fall apart at the same time.”

”Love me.”
“Love me like you love hockey and David Bowie?”
“So much more, Pumpkin, much, much more.”

”I didn’t want the bastards to see me bleed,” she whispers to her mother.
“Sometimes I’m afraid that they’re going to have to. To understand that you’re a real person,” her mother sobs, clutching her daughter so very, very tightly in her arms.

”Do you think I’m less of a man because I can’t fight?” he whispers.
“Do you think I’m less of a woman because I can?” she asks.

The Erdahl family:

”What did you get wrong? Perfection isn’t a goal in the Erdahl family, it’s the norm.”

I didn’t like Kevin’s father but I liked his mother. She did the right thing even though it must have been so tough for her. Her heart-to-heart with Benji killed me and I was at least as devastated after their conversation as they were. This hurt so much. >_<

”Benji tries to light a cigarette. His hands are shaking too much to hold the lighter. His tears extinguish the flame.”

Amat & Fatima:

”He’ll allow her aching fingers to rest and give her aching back a break. He doesn’t want possessions. He just wants to lie in bed one single night without having to count.”

Those two had such a wonderful relationship! Amat loved his mother so much and she raised him well! I loved how Amat made the right choices even though he knew it would cost him everything. He didn’t run away, he faced the consequences and he fought for the truth. I’m sure Fatima is very proud of him because heaven knows, I AM!

”You know that my eyes work better than anyone else’s in here. Because that’s the first thing you learn on the Beartown Ice Hockey Club, isn’t it? You can’t teach that way of seeing. That’s something you’re born with.”

”I only need one man: my son. And you’re not alone. You’ve never been alone. You just need to be better at choosing the company you keep.”


I was so conflicted about his character! At the beginning of the book I didn’t like him, then he started to grow on me, then there was a time I didn’t like him once again and at the ending I still kind of loved him?! AHHH! I didn’t agree with a lot of the things he said and did, but I also loved him for some of the things he didn’t say and didn’t do. Does that make sense? >_<


”This town doesn’t always know the difference between right and wrong. I’ll admit that. But we know the difference between good and evil.”

I ADORE THIS WOMAN!!! <33 She might be grumpy and rough but she has her heart at the right place and that’s everything that counts. In a world dominated by men she stood her ground and forced them to see the truth. I just loved how all those grown men listened to her and acknowledged her opinion. This woman is one hell of a bear and more man than any of them! XD


I’ll never be able to put all of my emotions into words so I’ll just go with my initial thoughts after finishing the book and hope that they’ll give you a good impression of how I feel about “Beartown”:

I’m an emotional wreck.
I’m Backman trash.
Throw me in a dustbin and close the lid.

The end.


I don’t know anything about hockey but I know a great deal about life in a small town.
From what I could glean from the blurb this sounds like an intriguing story and after all those stellar ratings I’m pretty sure that I’ll like it.

I think I never read anything from Fredrik Backman before but I’m more than just ready to find out if he might be one of my new favourite authors.

This said let’s tackle the remaining books on "My Book List 2019"!
24 down, 16 more to go! XD (15 without this one!)
Profile Image for James.
Author 20 books3,723 followers
August 12, 2022
4.5 out of 5 stars to Beartown, a 2016 contemporary novel by Fredrik Backman. Although the book had a bit of a difficult start for me, it developed into an emotionally-charged hot bed, triggering anger and frustration over so many things about the human race... and I'm quite glad I read it and enjoyed it. But wow... I haven't a visceral emotional reaction to words like this in a very long time.

Why This Book
Beartown began showing up on a few of my Goodreads' friends booklists earlier this year, intriguing my interest. I read the overview and saw many comments that "although the premise of all about a junior hockey team, it's so much more." I had a hard time believing that to be true but thought it might be worth a chance if I could get it from NetGalley. And then I was approved to read it in early April. It took me a few weeks to find the right time in my reading schedule, but it all fell into place last week when I finally took the book on. Also of note: it’s translated from Swedish.

Overview of Story
Beartown is a very small town in the middle of a forest far away from everywhere else. It was once bigger and stronger, but the economy has pushed it further and further down a hole -- to the point where all they have left is the possibility of a good junior hockey team in the future. Everyone in the town gets involved to some degree, either playing, supporting or raising the players who range from 13 to 17 years old. It's the place where agents sometimes go to find the next great star of the professional leagues.

But the lack of resources and funding has led to a bitter passion among the residents, who seem to stop at almost nothing to ensure their kids have an opportunity to win their games. Some of the residents are fair and honest. Some are rude and malicious. It feels like a typical American sports town, (but the story is set in Sweden) breeding team camaraderie fueled in some cases by hatred and anger, but in a few, promoting acceptance and tolerance.

Each of the key team members (8 to 10) has a personal story. Each of the parents and coaches have a vision. Rivalries and favoritism shine all around. And with each passing game, the school decided what side of the coin they're on... supporting the team and accepting hockey will always comes first, before education, or fighting back to keep a fair balance. But when someone is attacked, sides must be taken within the school, the team, the hockey league and the town.

It's a story about hope, control, loss, jealousy, anger, and desire. It's about parenting styles. It's about looking the other way for the sake of long-term goals despite what you may be letting someone get away with in the short term. It's about how people treat one another. And in so many cases, it is not the way it should be.

Approach & Style
Beartown is told by an omniscient narrator who can look into any characters head at any moment.

It's told in the present tense with a few small reflections on the past.

Point of view changes and hops around within chapters, defined by a few spaces between paragraphs.

It's mostly short sentence structure and paragraphs. Told the way people speak.

1. I am not a big sports fan. I played on a soccer and baseball team when I was younger. And I worked for a sports arena for nearly 20 years. But I have never been interested in hockey. And while the story is too focused in the beginning on the pertinent parts of the sport and rules, it generally has a very good approach to building a fever for the team among us readers. When an author can do that, it's a strong book.

2. The characters are fairly vivid, each representing a difference slice of life and personality. You will like a few. You will hate many of them. It's another good thing when an author can deliver this level of emotion. As an example, Maggan Lyt supports her son no matter what he has done. And she's rude to everyone, lies, believes her own lies and has no sense of morality. She wasn't a huge part of the story, but she is the epitome of what I hate about what sports can do to a kid. She's the worst kind of mother and should have been taught a bigger lesson. (I rarely go off on topics, especially like this... but she is what is wrong with so many things right now about how people behave in this world...)

3. The setting is described nearly perfectly. You feel the despair. You see the emptiness. You can tell it's a freezing cold pit of fear.

4. Views are told from everyone's angle. And even though you will have pure hatred for some of the people, part of you has a small understanding of why they do what they do. You won't accept it or like it, but you can see how it happened in Beartown. And you will wonder if that's what's happening in so many other towns across the country.

Open Questions & Concerns
During the first 60 to 75 pages, I was a little frustrated at the focus on hockey as a sport the town rallied around. It was slightly boring and difficult to connect. I trudged through, reading 75 pages the first night and the second night. By the third night (last night). I was 35% through and starting to feel that intense sensation where you just don't want to put the book down, and I finished the last 300 pages all in one sitting (in bed). Intense because I was so angry at the people, the actions and their beliefs. It made me feel sorrow for any town who focuses on sports as the center of their life. I've always thought high school sporting teams were full of nonsense. I don't want to alienate any readers of the book or even my reviews... but I really have to ask the question... Do school sports breed teamwork or do they breed arrogance and nasty habits of accepting things just because you're on the same team? I'm sure there are good examples of a team building positive traits in children... but this was not one of them. When they're proud to have injuries... when they support someone who has clearly done something bad because they are on the same team... when they use derogatory language in a locker room because it helps create a bond... that's not teamwork. That's humanity at its worst... that's people thinking they are above others because they have some physical talent for playing a sport. I have little if any tolerance or patience for people like that. Even when I played on teams, sure, I bought into the "rah, rah, let's win" concept. But the second it crosses that line and because a situation where it's just bad behavior or the thoughts of the uninformed and lazy, ridiculous politics of small minds, I wish they'd all go straight to hell in a hand-basket. And that's how this book made me feel - it conjured up those feelings.... and it was really well done. It hit all the hot spots I have about awful sports parents, horrible team members who think they can do anything because they're a "hero."

I couldn't push this up to a perfect 5 for a few reasons, but it's very close!

1. Some of the characters felt too similar / duplicate. I had a bit of a hard time distinguishing them from one another, e.g. which parent is that, what happened to that kid before the game? It could have been a little tighter in this area.

2. I'm a bit unclear on the ending... it was like there were 2 possible versions... and I wanted to know exactly what happened. It also didn't feel like every character had a proper ending... a few open issues left for me.

Author & Other Similar Books
I haven't read any other sports-themed books, so I don't have anything to compare it to from that perspective. But as far as the intensity of your anger or hatred for some of the characters... I would liken it to how I felt about James K. Morrow's The Philosopher's Apprentice.

Final Thoughts
I've ranted a bit here. It's a powerful book. It showcases many of the fears I have about a good portion of the country. I'm all for team spirit and finding hope in an activity when there seems to be nothing else available; however, if this is a commentary on what it's like for many towns across the world... my fears are justified. And when a book can share and show that... it's a really strong one... and worth the read.

P.S. No offense intended to anyone who is a big sports fan, sports parents or sports player themselves. The anger I felt in reading this book is for the negativity steaming off all the wrong things about sports and how they make people act. I'm all for a positive, character-building team sport where the intensity is on the field... and the only thing left off the field is friendship, fair and honest support and an ability to know when to draw the line.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Profile Image for oyshik.
219 reviews692 followers
January 30, 2021
Beartown(Beartown,#1) by Fredrik Backman
Parenting, friendships, prejudices, love, cruelty.From gender prejudices to parental love, from teenage fears to ethnic differences, this novel has it all, revolving around a dark tragedy which very few but the brave will confront. A story that has it all and yet described in such a simple way that is truly amazing. A great story about humanity and survival.
Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.

Profile Image for Always Pouting.
575 reviews762 followers
March 2, 2022
Beartown is a small town in the forest with a dwindling population and ever decreasing resources. Beartown is also a hockey town where the sport's importance only increases when it begins to become tied into the financial future of the town. When the junior team is actually poised to win the finals this year the whole town starts to become hopeful about the future. Things become tense in this environment when a violent act is perpetrated by one of the boys on the team the night of the semi-finals, leaving the whole town feeling that their future is in jeopardy.

Spoilers ahead. This one was 3.5 stars for me.

I think everyone else enjoyed it much more than I did. I did enjoy it, but I just felt that the story line could have been much tighter. Like there was a lot put into the book that felt unnecessary to the story line and it detracted from it. I might have also enjoyed it less than others because I couldn't help but compare it to A Man Called Ove which completely wrecked me. The story there also unfolds in a much neater manner and everything in the book only seems to add to the story which doesn't necessarily apply to this book.

I especially feel that way about the ending, like that seen with Maya or the four year old girl that eventually grows up to become a star apparently. Neither of those things felt like they had to be put in their. Also adding Zacharias' suicidal ideation was clearly there just to distract us from figuring out who shoots the shots from the beginning of the book but it felt manipulative like it was put in their just to up the tension or suspense. Also the whole things with the shots didn't feel like it had to be a thread running through the book, the books feels like it's supposed to work up to revealing what happens there but it makes such a mess of doing so that it felt pointless to start the book off with that scene. It would've been just as powerful a scene there at the end without opening with it. If anything opening with it just made it distracting through out the book because I just kept wondering about it and it took me away from really getting into the book.

That said I did however enjoy this book a lot and I loved the depth of the characters and the way it went into the themes of a rural town struggling to sustain itself and the way people are treated when they report rape. It was all very timely in this political climate and I think it was handled with nuance and painted a complex picture of all the characters. I really enjoy it when books humanize characters whose actions we may find abhorrent because I think its one of those things we tend to lose sight of in day to day life. I would totally read more of Backman's work in the future, just hope next time the editor tells him to cut out the frivolous details.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,952 followers
June 27, 2022
**Reread - I’m going back to my original 3 stars

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.

At first I wasn't really getting into this book. I don't know why because:

1) I love the author
2) I love hockey
3) I love coming of age stories
4) I love the cold
5) I love small towns. I was born in one.

It finally got to where I liked it enough to change stars from 3 to 4. Although, I really wish for a better ending. Don't get me wrong, it was a great ending. . . I just wanted....... something else to happen. Uggg, I can't say because you will know. Let me just say I wouldn't haven't walked away and maybe those that have read it will know what I'm talking about.

This whole little community of Beartown is nothing but hockey baby.

And a lot of these boys are pretty bad @ssed on the ice! I mean they are going somewhere, maybe not where they want to go.

There are a lot of characters in the story. Some I hated more than life (one in particular) and others I liked. I can't keep them all straight and I didn't write them all down. Damn.

etc and so on.

these kids are all different ages and of course everyone in the town knows each other. A lot of them have been there since the ice age. And there is nothing wrong with that.

It's not just about hockey, although most of it is, but it's about them growing up with hockey, how they feel. There are adults that having issues. There is a terrible attack in the town that throws everyone out of kilter. To me that was simple, red hot poker people, red hot poker.

To me, I think this would have been a nice place to live if it wasn't one of those places where the sport is more important than a human life so to speak. I can't say more. Otherwise, the close knit community is a great thing.

I wish I could have loved it to death like everyone else on the face of the planet but I thought it was good enough.


Welcome to Beartown!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Ninoska Goris.
269 reviews162 followers
January 23, 2018
English - Español

Not always, although more in the last year, I buy over hyped books. They are not always as good as they seem. But I decided to give a try to Beartown and oh, blew me away.

I am not someone outside sports and I understand the sacrifices that have to be made to achieve goals. When I was a teenager I practiced swimming. We had a national preselection competition. I got the flu and I kept swimming even with fever, because that was demanded from me. I ended up with bronchopneumonia and I had to stop swimming for life. Actions and consequences.

This book catches you from the start. You don't know how it will end up in the first page prediction. It could literally be anyone. The story is full of teenagers.

Beartown is a city with subzero temperatures most of the year, in decay, businesses closing and many layoffs. Its people speak little and are well delimited according to their social position. The higher you live, the better your income.

The people have their hopes set on the junior hockey team. If they win, they expected investments will be made in the town and it will be a better place.

But even if Beartown only talks about hockey, the book is much more. Do not expect lessons, or complicated language. It's more about people and players. It is about the President of the hockey club that must accept demands from the sponsors to continue sponsoring, about the General Manager who must fire his mentor so that they can appoint another person, on the hockey star and excellent student, but his parents are always absent, about his best friend without whom he can't play but who keeps a great secret, about the owner of the bar that has not left the premises since her husband died eleven years ago, about how a Family survives when one of the children dies, about how the town faces a horrible crime that will affect hockey, and much, much more.

There are many characters and each one of them is important. No one is named to name it. You know who they are and how they think. This is one of the best features of the book. It's close. In more than one opportunity it will leave you feeling more of an emotion.

Undoubtedly it is one of the best books I've ever read.


No siempre, aunque más en el último año, compro los libros que tienen mucha publicidad. No siempre son tan buenos como parecen. Pero a Beartown decidí darle una oportunidad y oh, como me impactó.

No soy alguien ajena a los deportes y entiendo los sacrificios que hay que hacer para lograr metas. Cuando era adolescente practicaba natación. Teníamos una competencia de preselección nacional. Me dio gripe y seguí nadando inclusive con fiebre porque eso se me exigía. Al final me dio bronconeumonía y tuve que dejar la natación de por vida. Acciones y consecuencias.

Este libro te atrapa desde el inicio. No sabes cómo terminará en la predicción de la primera página. Literalmente podría ser cualquiera. La historia está llena de adolescentes.

Beartown es una ciudad con temperaturas bajo cero la mayor parte del año, en decadencia, negocios cerrando y muchos despidos. Su gente habla poco y están bien delimitados según su posición social. Mientras más arriba vivas significará mejores ingresos.

El pueblo tiene sus esperanzas puestas en el equipo Junior de hockey. Si ellos ganan se espera que se hagan inversiones en el pueblo y pueda prosperar.

Pero aunque en Beartown solo se habla de hockey, el libro es mucho más. No esperen lecciones, ni lenguaje complicado. Es más sobre las personas y los jugadores. Es sobre el Presidente del club de hockey que debe aceptar exigencias de los patrocinadores para que sigan patrocinando, sobre el General Manager que debe despedir a su mentor para que puedan nombrar en su puesto a otra persona, sobre la estrella del hockey y excelente estudiante, pero que sus padres siempre están ausentes, sobre su mejor amigo sin el que no puede jugar pero que guarda un gran secreto, sobre la dueña del bar que no ha salido del local desde que se murió su esposo hace once años, sobre cómo sobrevive una familia cuando se muere uno de los hijos, sobre cómo enfrenta el pueblo un hecho descabellado que afectará al hockey, y mucho, mucho más.

Hay muchos personajes y cada uno de ellos es importante. No se nombra a alguien por nombrarlo. Conoces quién es cada quien y cómo piensa. Esta es una de las mejores características del libro. Es cercano. En más de una oportunidad te dejará sintiendo más de una emoción.

Sin lugar a dudas es uno de los mejores libros que he leído.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,199 reviews3,043 followers
September 17, 2022
Beartown (Beartown #1)
by Fredrik Backman, Marin Ireland (Narrator)

Beartown is nothing, if not a hockey town. But the town has been dying for a long time and the only chance of saving Beartown is if the junior hockey team can pull off a win at the national semi-finals and then pull off a win at the finals. Doing so will draw in the big sponsors, bring a brand new rink to the town, and change the entire future of a town that is going nowhere but down.

So when a teen girl is attacked by someone important to the hockey team, when she reports the attack, it's the girl who is vilified for even saying a word about what happened. No one interferes with the hockey team and if they do, they and their family will pay. Times like these are when we see who really is a good person or not. Some things are unforgivable in this town and they are not the things one would expect. Things are different in a hockey town that has worshipped hockey for so long and won't let it go until it's dying day.

Bad things are foreshadowed from the beginning of the story so there is a sense of doom throughout. This story is less about hockey than about having the courage to say, do, and back what is right, no matter how doing so will blow your life to smithereens. I fell in love with a few of the characters and admire their courage to stand up to those who have the power to flatten them.

Pub April 25 2017 by Simon Schuster Audio
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,308 reviews2,191 followers
February 6, 2017
Hockey. What did I care about hockey? I didn't. But the novel soon becomes about more than just the sport, about so much more than I can articulate in a review without giving too much away, but I'll try. Backman tells us early on what I was about to discover for myself.

"Why does anyone care about hockey?
Because it tells stories. "

Beartown is a small Swedish town in a forest that could be a small town anywhere. Maybe the sport in these towns is baseball or soccer or football. But here it is hockey. In spite of the universality of it, there is a sense of place so striking that it's like another character. This is the story of many of the town's residents - the kids, their families and how they are connected by the game, but the connections are more than just the game . There are alternating chapters, sometimes just alternating paragraphs about them, with new characters continually introduced. Somehow the continuity is never lost; someone is always linked to someone else. The narrative moves from character to character, family to family providing such an in depth picture of who they are. It takes an amazingly talented writer to do this with so many characters to keep tract of. The writing sometimes feels subtle but yet I came to intimately know these characters as I did in his other novels.

Young hockey players, coaches who are former hockey players, their spouses, mothers and fathers. It seems that just about everyone carries a burden. Some are grieving, some are lonely, some are bullied, some carry secrets, yet a few summon the strength to move forward. My favorite characters are Maya, who in the face of being victimized provides the strength and love that holds her family together and of course Ramona who lifts herself out of her grief to save the town from itself. I can't forget about Amat who wants to fit in, save his mother but faces the challenge of doing what is right and Ana the best friend that anyone could ever hope for. Backman has woven a complex story full of sadness, hope, discovery, people fighting their own demons, about parents and kids. Not all the games are won but there are triumphs of friendship, love, and doing what is right. To Fredrik Backman , I say from the heart tack sa mycket for another beautiful story.

I received an advanced copy of this from Atria through NetGalley and Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,208 reviews19.7k followers
November 12, 2022
“All your best qualities come from the fact that you’ve been raised in a house full of women.”

After the constant battering my heart and soul received, and the injustice of the story over took my mind, and the bleakness of it all was slowly brought forth, woven in with moments of absolute heartwarming tenderness and laughter, it was that above quote that finally broke me and I couldn’t stop crying.

I don’t know whether to expand on the synopsis or let readers discover its impact on their own.
There isn’t much - and there is much - that you need to know about this story. It’s set in a small town that has hinged its identity to hockey. It’s a small town that gets uprooted after an injustice occurs. And Backman dissects it like a pro.

It’s 2:40am. I’ll expand on the review in a few hours. Hopefully.

(I've decided I don't have it in me to review this. Mainly because this review would turn into an essay, but it would also mean revisiting and sorting through the emotional baggage this book unfolded within me. Just know that it is one of my favourite books of all time.)


I think I've put myself in the mind-set of being emotionally distraught. But I highly doubt I'm prepared enough for what is to come my way.
Profile Image for Larry.
76 reviews8,737 followers
October 20, 2021
Well, it’s no secret that Fredrik Backman has become my favorite author, and Beartown is just a wonderful example of why. His writing style results in dozens of memorable lines, describing humans in a way that few others can. Using hockey as a central focus for this story just cemented this as a classic for me. Can’t wait to read the next part of this story…
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,169 followers
May 27, 2017
*This is an audio version review of Beartown.*

Holy cow! I never expected to love this book. I'm not a sports person let alone a hockey person. Thanks to my Goodreads friends I took a chance on it. I'm so glad I did! 5 Stars for Beartown! This book grabbed me from the very beginning and never let go. Bang bang bang is still in my head!

Beartown is about a declining small town in Sweden that revolves around it's hockey team. There are so many characters in this book, including current hockey players and former players. The fate of this town revolves around hockey.

I would love to see this made into a movie. I could see Meryl Streep playing Ramona. I loved her! I'd like to see Tom Hiddleston as David. I could keep casting but you will just get a list of my favorite actors! Lol!

Props to the narrator, Marin Ireland! She was awesome! I wouldn't recommend this as a first listen only because there are so many different characters in the story but otherwise I highly recommend the audio!

This is my first Fredrik Backman book but it will definitely not be my last!

Read or listen to it. It will be on many people's top 10 list of 2017 for sure!
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews735 followers
February 9, 2020
Benji puts his weight down on his foot. The good one this time, not the broken one. "I just want to play." Peter laughs. "Okay but, God, Benji, with your talent and your passion, you could really be something. I mean, seriously. You could be playing at an elite level in a couple of years. Hed Hockey are going to have a fantastic team, financial resources, you'll have much better opportunities to develop there." Benji gives a nonchalant shrug. His answer is as short as it is uncompromising: "But I'm from Beartown."...

This is a d*mn,... d*mn good book. Really. Now I see what many readers have already concluded. Wow...
I loved the first book I read of this author, A man called Ove. Second book I read, My grandmother told me.... was good, but not as good as I wanted it to be. But this one, Beartown, is out of every league. And it underlines the quality of the author, this story being so different in storyline and style of writing, from his other books. What strikes me is the incredibly human touch of this book on every page. Big tragedy, personal struggles, pain, courage and love combined. Heartfelt. Emotional. Sincere. What can I say, yes, I cried again, yes, it's a five star... Although not the main character in the book, I loved Ramona, the bartender of the Bearskin bar in town... And Benji... And Ana...And Amat...And Maya...
Still have to breath... and think about this book;-) Highly recommended for those who have not read this one yet!

The story in short: 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. And 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 semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the 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 semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent at that will leave the town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected....
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,157 followers
March 7, 2017
5 Big Fat Wonderful Stars!

Welcome to the poor side of town. BEARTOWN is way out yonder in the middle of a forest where winter temperatures reach sub-zero and hockey is the name of the game for its struggling residents.

You don't have to be a hockey fan, or sports fan for that matter, to read BEARTOWN, you only have to (once again) sit back and enjoy the superb and addictive story telling of Fredrik Backman.

So get ready.....there's a whole gang of characters who each have their own personal stories to tell.....some even have big secrets, and some do evil, but most importantly, many of them will demonstrate what it means to have a big heart, show courage in the face of danger, and even give up their dreams if it means survival for their small town.

I was surprised how my opinion of certain characters changed as the story developed, and although I have more than one favorite, Ramona is the one that will stick with me for a good while.....what a tough cookie!

Excellent Read! Highly Recommend!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Atria books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,127 followers
May 11, 2019
4.5 Stars

It’s Blemished
It’s Edgy
It’s Awestricken
It’s Resolute
It’s Tragic
It’s Otherworldly
It’s Worrisome
It’s Nightmarish

In Beartown, one thing, and only one thing is important ... their hockey team. The players are obsessed! The parents are obsessed! The residents are obsessed! Lives revolve around hockey, and if you don’t tow the line, there are plenty of buses to be thrown under. Only one result matters no matter what the cost, “WIN!!!”

The town is unfortunately a depressed, forgotten, in the middle of no-where’s ville, dot on the map. The locals are hanging their hats and hopes on the junior hockey team winning the state championship and putting Beartown back on the map of prosperity.

Filled to the brim with characters essential to the success of the hockey program, the story is told in short segments, a look as you will into the lives of each individual. We get a glimpse into what they are thinking, feeling, hoping for, regretting. Each snippet is building and building up to a shocking event which will change everyone and everything! It will pit friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member.

Beartown will never be the same!

Fredrik Backman is a masterful storyteller. His writing style is atypical in this book, but I found it to be very effective and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Amat, you completely captured my heart. The world would be a much better place if there were more gentlemen like you in it
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,711 reviews25k followers
July 30, 2017
The Scandal is the British title for Beartown, a remote northern town in Sweden, a place in a cycle of economic decline and a community with an unabashed primal tribal obsession with its junior ice hockey team. This is a dark and cold town where everyone knows everyone. A hockey team from whom much is expected and demanded, instrumental in defining the identity of a wide array of characters that inhabit this superlative novel, each providing their pivotal piece to the story. Backmann has truly outdone himself in how he exposes and asks the deepest questions of his characters and the community. It begins with a teenager committing a shocking act that sets the scene for how this comes to be, and the consequent reverberations that splinter Beartown apart as people come to sit on one side of the fence or the other. It is about the complications and difficulties of doing the right thing in the face of those willing to overlook justice and condone the unacceptable for the apparent 'greater good' of the team and the town.

We come to understand the sacrifices, stresses and strains of being on the hockey team, the rivalries, the different values of the coaches, the aggressions, the friendships, the parties and the star team player for whom the only thing that matters is to win. There are the demanding expectations of the team by the rest of the community and their hopes that it will revive the town from its path to potential oblivion. Involvement in the team offers an escape from the complexities and difficulties of real life for the team and its supporters. There are insights into the families of the players, the business sector and others. We see the problem of unwavering adulation and the inability of players to emotionally handle this and contributing to morally problematic behaviour. We see Maya's pain, resilience and courage, her reasons for sleeping at her friend, Ana's home regularly. The wisdom of Amal's mother in emphasising honesty, kindness and for the need to do good. There are so many notable characters from Benji and the amazing Ramona as we see if Beartown is capable of delivering justice with bated breath.

One of the major reasons Backmann's novel is so powerful and successful is that he taps into the universality of passion for sport. The characters with their maelstrom of reactions and feelings reflect their prevalence in any team in any sport and their supporters, connecting every reader to the story. Into this background Backmann throws a metaphorical grenade that rocks an entire community, and this grenade is based on the true realities in a world where some sports team members have engaged in precisely the same kind of despicable behaviours outlined, resulting in communities facing similar issues. This is a multilayered narrative that resonates on virtually every level. Backmann's characters and their development is simply masterful. The author managed to wring a wide range of heartfelt emotions from me, including anger and outrage. This is a story that takes on dark, complex, harrowing issues and deals with them with depth, candour and wisdom. A must read book that I cannot recommend highly enough. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Profile Image for Meredith (Trying to catch up!).
815 reviews12.7k followers
July 14, 2017
On the surface, Beartown is a book about hockey, but it’s so much more!

Beartown is about friendship, loyalty, family, and, loss. It’s about a town that’s fighting to stay alive. It’s about a girl who is wronged, and the boy who commits the wrong. It’s about a town that becomes divided over what’s right and wrong, good vs. evil, and the blurred lines in between. It’s about those little things that people do, but aren’t always seen. It's about the bravest people who break away from the pack to do what’s right, even though the consequences might destroy the town that they love. To sum it up, this is a book about love.

I honestly cannot find the words to convey what an amazing book this is. Beartown is more than a book--it’s an experience.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
266 reviews277 followers
October 1, 2022
“What an uncomfortable, terrible source of shame it is for the world that the victim is so often the one left with the most empathy for others.”

In a large Swedish forest, Beartown hides a dark secret... Cut off from everywhere else it experiences the kind of isolation that tears people apart, and each year more and more of the town is swallowed by the forest. Then the town is offered a bright new future. But it’s all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who'll risk the future to see justice done. Who will speak up? Could you stand by and stay silent? Or would you risk everything for justice? Which side would you be on?

Set in the fictional Beartown, this is the story of a town obsessed with its Hockey team. It's the story of what happens when loyalties and passions are tested and when what is right smashes right up against what is longed for. It’s also the story of the lengths a town will go to to save itself.

The opening page sets this novel up as a crime thriller, but it’s so much more than that. This is, at its heart, a story about community. More than that, it's a story about misogyny, patriarchy and rape culture, and about the myth that exposing and eradicating these is more of a threat to a community than allowing them to fester unchallenged.

The authors writing does what the very best books do, it makes you feel, think and reflect, from many perspectives. This book makes you angry, makes you cry, makes you love, and hate. There is an entire world in its pages, and I can see why this book is so popular. I didn’t fully appreciate this book until I had finished it and then couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I highly recommend.
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