The backdrop of the story is hockey, but there is so much more to it than that. This is the second book in the Beartown series and it is best that you read the first one as everything that happens in this book is a result of the actions taken in the first one. Beartown is a small town in the forest. The factory is laying people off, many are unemployed, there are drugs, lots of alcoholics and hockey. Many of the players from Beartown hockey, switched to the team in Hed, Beartown's hated rivals, after the rape that occurred in the last book. In the sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman explores what happens as a consequence of this unspeakable act, how everyone involved tries to pick up the pieces of their lives: the boy, the girl, her family and the town. In this book, a sneaky, local politician, Richard Theo, has dreams of bigger and better things for his political career. He starts calling in favours to rebuild the team and buy the factory to bring back jobs. He brings in a female coach, spreads rumors to manipulate people, gets everyone upset with everyone else. The team pulls together, but will this save the town.
I was emotionally moved while reading this story. There were family dramas, bullying, small town politics, gangs, homosexuality and its effects on self and others, dealing with loss, friendship and so much more. The characters or Benji, Bobo, Amat, Maya, Ana, Leo and even Teemu are very well developed. We find out more about their past and what makes them tick. The paths they take as they deal with what life has thrown at them and how they help one another are a major part of the story. The others in their families, Benji's sisters and Bobo's father are wonderfully supportive family members that are also dealing with major upheaval in their lives. When the hockey rivalry is racheted up a notch the book takes on a life of its own. I do not want to give away the plot so will not describe any more than I have, but take my word for it.
Fredrik Backman has become one of my favourite authors. He shows his amazing talent as he moves from one character to the next, as he creates a suspense and drama, which has the reader waiting for something awful to happen. As we get to know the thoughts and feelings of the many characters, and listen to their simple phrases that depict their thoughts on unconditional parental love, the depth of friendship, marriage and ambition, expectations, rivalry, loyalty, love and hate it makes the reader think deeply. There are so many wonderful quotes that I love in this book, but I will leave you with this one: "It’s so easy to get people to hate each other. That’s what makes love so impossible to understand. Hate is so simple that it always ought to win. It’s an uneven fight.” The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
Book on CD narrated by Marin Ireland3.5***Backman returns to Beartown to explore what happens in the aftermath of the first book’s stunning events. I think that readers who have not experienced Beartown could still read and enjoy this book on its own, but it will definitely make more sense if you’ve read the first book before delving into this one.On the plus side, I love the way that Backman writes these characters, how he reveals them through their actions and reactions to one another. People react without much thought, other times they are deliberate and careful. Sometimes they cling to old loyalties blindly. Other times they switch allegiance on a whim. Some are lost in their troubles and stuck in old ways. Others forge ahead blindly, refusing to dwell on the past or even really consider the consequences. I also love the way Backman follows the story arc. He moves back and forth between characters’ points of view as he tells the story of the town. Yet the story is always moving forward, keeping me enthralled and interested.What I didn’t like so much … the constant “telling.” Backman can’t resist telling me what people feel, how they think, why this or that is important or critical, what might happen. Trust your readers; if you present the characters, flaws and strengths alike, the reader will understand how they feel, why they behave as they do. You don’t have to spell it out. Marin Ireland does an excellent job of narrating the audiobook. She has a lot of characters to handle: men, women, teens, elderly, officious jerks and tender hearts. She brings all of them to life and clearly differentiates them.
I was very happy to return to Beartown. Beartown was by far my favorite book of 2017. I love the sense of community, the allowances its citizens make for each other, the love/hate relationships amongst its citizens, and the family connections.Us Against You was an excellent book. But...I wasn't as consumed by this story. It felt like I didn't go deep into many of the characters' lives. The focus was on Benji and I do like him. "The Pack" was also much more deeply presented. I guess I mostly missed Amat's story. He was a background player in this novel.I do recommend this book to all readers of Beartown. I have read that Beartown is a trilogy and am sure to read the next in the series.1 like