Book Review: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Dear Bookworms,

Us Against You brings us back to Beartown. (Didn’t catch that review, find it here!) The Beartown hockey club is all but dead having lost most of it’s team to their rival Hed, and along with it, the sponsors. With some sly maneuvering from a local politician involving a new sponsorship, a new coach, and the recruitment of a questionable talent, Peter Anderson just might be able to save hockey in Beartown. Building the team around Amat, Benji, Bobo, and the new recruit, Vidar, it looks like Beartown stands a fighting chance against Hed this year. Tensions mount between the two teams, and as a result, the two towns. Escalating violence goes from nuisance to deadly leaving the two towns wondering when hockey got so complicated and if can ever be the same again.

Blown away by Backman, the man can write! Another deeply moving novel that gives an introspective look into a proud hockey town. While Beartown focused more on the story of Maya, Us Against You gives us a more in depth look at Benji and The Pack. Each and every character was so expertly developed that they felt like actual people, people that I felt I knew deeply and wholly. I was once again awed by how Backman can not only capture his characters personalities with such a nuanced depth but how each of those characters fits in with the whole; The whole of their family units and the even the broader scope of within the town. Good characterization builds not only a complete picture of a person but how that person interacts with everything/everyone within its setting, and Backman is a master of it. This book had far more twists and turns than I was anticipating and I found myself flying through the pages like a madwoman long past my bedtime. Add this on your must read ASAP- it’s one that will stick with you, I promise.

Until next week!



Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Dear Bookworms,

I think this one may just make it onto my year end list of best books!

Beartown: A Novel
By Fredrik Backman

In the small forest town of Beartown, hockey is king. This rural Swedish town lives and breaths the sport; adults and kids alike. With a formidable team lead by a truly remarkable star, Kevin, the town thinks it may actually have a shot at winning the finals and putting themselves on the map nationally. With a national win, the sponsorship’s would roll in, breathing new life into Beartown, a truly life changing dream. After an incredible win in the semi-finals, a celebratory party gets out of hand leaving one teen girl the victim of a horrible crime, and the alleged perpetrator is none other than the towns hero, Kevin. Lines are drawn and sides are taken as the town battles within itself. Some will go to any lengths to protect their star, the team, and by extension, the towns promise of growth and success.

You guys, please, READ. THIS. BOOK.

This was a heavy read and I for sure am having to move on to some more light hearted fantasy or something after this because my god. Backman does a phenomenal job of really setting up the plot in this novel. The entire first half is character development and set up; which may sound like too much but trust me, Backman keeps it engaging. The reader gets a real grasp on the various characters (there are quite a few), fleshing them out in such a way as to where you can see out of their lens as they each learn of “the incident” (it’s honestly not really a huge shocker and is foreshadowed numerous times so I’ll just say it, SPOILER, the young girl was raped) and their subsequent reactions. The town as a whole, its past, history, and culture which is so entrenched in the hockey lifestyle, gives the reader such an in depth look at how a sexual assault by the towns hero could be handled in the way it eventually was. So many relevant themes were woven into this story, victim shamming, rape culture, toxic masculinity, all very eloquently portrayed and executed. 

This story could be one of millions of girls/women’s stories. In fact, at the time that I was reading this book, the Kavanaugh hearing was taking place. I could not (still can not) open up my Facebook, Twitter, online news articles without running into a wall of commentary so eerily similar to the arguments in the book. “Why did she wait so long to report it?” “She was drinking, and went with him upstairs, what did she think would happen?” “She’s just confused”. It was angering and disheartening but so relevant and timely. 

Fantastic read that I cannot recommend enough. I plan on reading the companion novel, Us Against You (after I read a few fantasy books- I need a break after such a heavy read in-conjunction with an also heavy news cycle). 

Heatwrentching and deep, this is a must read for all.