Review: BeartownTitle: Beartown
Series: Beartown #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 432
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

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. 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.

My Thoughts

My IRL book club chose to read BEARTOWN for our March book and it’s my second Fredrik Backman book. I’m glad we chose to read it because it’s a thought-provoking story that deals with hard subjects like toxic masculinity, winning at all costs, and consent.

BEARTOWN was a very hard emotional read. The story’s sad but hopeful, and extremely maddening. At times, it was difficult to keep reading. Even though my heart hurts, it was worth the pain and sorrow. I absolutely had no idea that a book about hockey (but not really) would make me feel the way I did.

Humanity has many shortcomings, but none is stronger than pride.

If you’ve ever read one of Backman’s books, then you know his stories are as good as they are because of his characters. Not only is he a master at writing emotionally charged stories, he’s also a master at writing a whole cast of round, complicated characters. The characters in BEARTOWN are no exception. These characters were so easy to connect with because they felt like real people with real lives.

BEARTOWN is the first book in a trilogy. I totally get why Backman wrote another two novels about these characters. The story’s so complex that this first installment could only focus on so much. Backman did a great job of picking and choosing what’s most important so much so that I don’t need to rush and read US AGAINST YOU and THE WINNERS.

Ever since I finished reading BEARTOWN, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I’m honestly still torn about it. For now, I’ve given it 4.5 stars, but I may change it to 5.

Have you read BEARTOWN? If so, what did you think about it?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, rape, loss of a parent, loss of a child, bullying, and abuse.

About Jenni Elyse

Hi, I'm Jenni. I’m an eclectic reader. I mostly read fiction and I favor fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thrillers, and romance. The more kissing in a book the better!
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16 replies
  1. Helen Murdoch
    Helen Murdoch says:

    I read Beartown and thought it was excellent. My book group had mixed feelings, but I think some of them couldn’t get past the hockey (which to me was secondary). The rest of us loved it.

    I have read the second one which is also very good. And at some point, I’ll read #3.

  2. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    I read ” A Man Called Ove” for Book Club and didn’t like it that much, so I haven’t tried any of his other books. I have heard positive reviews of this book though. Do you have to understand hockey to enjoy it? 🙂

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      I haven’t read A MAN CALLED OVE yet. I did love the movie with Tom Hanks, though, so I suspect I’ll love the book too.

      You don’t need to know anything about hockey. I’m very sports illiterate, lol.

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    I tried reading Anxious People by him (on audio) and I just didn’t click with it. This one sounds like something I’d like more so I might give it a go.

  4. Sara
    Sara says:

    Sounds like a challenging but very good read. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it. Will you continue the rest of the series?

    Thanks for a great review, Jenni!

  5. Roberta R.
    Roberta R. says:

    “I absolutely had no idea that a book about hockey (but not really) would make me feel the way I did.”
    I’m like you…”very sports illitterate”…so I guess this is a book that I could read because the hockey part is not the point…

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      I get it. I had no desire to read Backman. I did read ANXIOUS PEOPLE for a reading challenge, though, and I adored it. I’m glad the reading challenge pushed me out of my comfort zone. 😀

  6. Anne@HeadFullofBooks
    Anne@HeadFullofBooks says:

    Hi Jenni! I realized I hadn’t heard from you for quite a while and that got me to worrying. I hope you are doing okay, just not blogging. Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you.

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Thanks, Anne! 😀 I really appreciate that you took the time to let me know you were thinking of me. I’m doing pretty good right now and thinking about returning to blogging again. I took another break due to some health issues. Thankfully, I’m feeling better now, though.

    • Jenni Elyse
      Jenni Elyse says:

      Thank you for stopping by to say hi as well. 😀 I really appreciate it. I am feeling better for the most part, thankfully. I’m going to try to start blogging again and commenting on other blogs.


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