I picked up Beartown on a recommendation at the bookstore. The woman at the store said it was a book ‘about hockey, a tiny town and what happens when a tragedy hits’ and I immediately wanted to read it. I don’t know what it is about the smell of coffee and books that gets me all excited. In this case, however, I’m glad I trusted her comment. I read Beartown in a matter of hours.
The book is definitely about hockey. Being Canadian, that didn’t bother me. We’re pretty hockey obsessed. But I should explain that you don’t need to be a hockey fanatic or fan to read and understand the book. More than about hockey, this book is about people who love the sport–and some who don’t.
The tiny town of Beartown is set in a forest and has a small scattering of people. I love tiny towns. There’s something about the intimacy of them that appeals to me. Beartown, with it’s small set of quirky inhabitants was delicious. The book explained their stories, their backgrounds and why they acted like they did. It did so without breaking pace with the story, something that’s really hard to do. And, by the end, I felt like I was one of them, like I knew them.
Though this is mostly the story of one family, there were no outstanding heroes or heroines. Rather, this is the story of characters, with flaws and gifts, who acted in ways that caused a terrible incident to happen and then had to face the consequences. While I won’t destroy the story by saying what happens, I will say that the entire town has to react to it because Beartown is that small. Good or bad, everyone is changed by the end.
I loved that the characters weren’t perfect. I loved that they interacted with each other in good ways and in ways that drove the others mad. I loved how their past and stories were sprinkled throughout the book, like little gems to highlight their personalities and help the reader understand why it is that they acted the way they did.
Mostly, though. it is the writing that was addictive in the best sense of the word. Fredik Backman does an incredible job of creating interest. Just the way he presents what happens, the order in which he presents things, made me turn those pages. I will give you a snippet of what I mean by the very introduction. It’s very short but I think it will convey just how addictive the book is.
“Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shogun, 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.”
Doesn’t that just make you want to read more? It certainly did me. I read that little bit and had to buy the book right then and there.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fiction, family fiction and those who enjoy a good mystery. It’s not a mystery, but it has enough suspense and action to satisfy the pickiest mystery fan. I would also recommend it to those who enjoy sports, because it is a lovely sports story. If you do pick it up, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.