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

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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.