Beartown by Fredrik Backman

May 25th, 2017 Kimberly Review 70 Comments

25th May
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
by Fredrik Backman
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Length: 13 hours and 11 minutes
Genres: Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Narration: 4 cups

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, comes a poignant, charming novel about a forgotten town fractured by scandal, and the amateur hockey team that might just change everything.

Winning a junior ice hockey championship might not mean a lot to the average person, but it means everything to the residents of Beartown, a community slowly being eaten alive by unemployment and the surrounding wilderness. A victory like this would draw national attention to the ailing town: it could attract government funding and an influx of talented athletes who would choose Beartown over the big nearby cities. A victory like this would certainly mean everything to Amat, a short, scrawny teenager who is treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice; to Kevin, a star player just on the cusp of securing his golden future in the NHL; and to Peter, their dedicated coach whose own professional hockey career ended in tragedy.

At first, it seems like the team might have a shot at fulfilling the dreams of their entire town. But one night at a drunken celebration following a key win, something happens between Kevin and the coach’s daughter—and the next day everything seems to have changed. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. With so much riding on the success of the team, the line between loyalty and betrayal becomes difficult to discern. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

Fredrik Backman knows that we are forever shaped by the places we call home, and in this emotionally powerful, sweetly insightful story, he explores what can happen when we carry the heavy weight of other people's dreams on our shoulders.

Audiobook Small-town well written Truffles

I accepted BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman for an audio review without even reading the blurb. Such is my love for this author. Last year I devoured A MAN CALLED OVE and then forced my hubby to watch the movie with subtitles. I still think about Ove daily. BEARTOWN is different and yet no less powerful.

Fredrik Backman takes us to a small rural town in Sweden known as Beartown. Hockey is the heart of this isolated town where winning is everything and parents pray their child will be picked up professionally. A place that when something dark happens involving the town’s star player their world divides. Powerful and poignant Backman weaved a tale that will take the reader through an array of emotions.

The tale that unfolds revolves around hockey, and parents devoted to seeing their child succeed and escape their dead-end town. Sponsors, town politics and the hopes and dreams of their economy all rest on their teams and coaches shoulders. Backman skillfully characterizes the small-town and bringing key characters to life.

I went into this blind, and at first, I wondered what direction this story would take. Surely it couldn’t be a whole book on hockey? If I had read the synopsis, I would have been on edge waiting for the “event, ” but in retrospect, I am glad I went in cold because said event and the fallout offered a compelling read. Backman took us to the darker side of ourselves with a subject matter and subsequent reactions that reflected a relevant and timeless issue. It exposed the pain the victim feels and the painful accusations that follow.

BEARTOWN allows us to get to known individuals both young and old within the town. From them emerge, villains, prejudice, and quiet heroes. Some struggle between what the outcome means to the town’s survival and others debate behind closed doors. Backman brilliantly captured all sides, exposing both the dark and the light of humanity.

Marin Ireland is a new to me narrator but she delivered a powerful interpretation of the tale and the characters. She captured emotions from tone to pacing offering the listener a delightful, captivating listen.

The synopsis states “… in this emotionally powerful, sweetly insightful story, Beckman explores what can happen when we carry the heavy weight of other people’s dreams on our shoulders.” and that statement nails the heart of BEARTOWN. Grab some truffles and maybe a glass of wine before beginning your journey to this small-town. It is a story that will stay with you long after it ends.

Trigger warning: View Spoiler »

Beartown by Fredrik Backman delivered a powerful and insightful tale #audio Click To Tweet

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

70 Responses to “Beartown by Fredrik Backman”

  1. Suzanne

    Beartown sounds fantastic. I haven’t read anything by this author yet, but my sister sent me A Man Called Ove recently so I hope to read that soon.

  2. Cyn

    This sounds like a sweet and amazing read! I love hockey with a passion and you just get so so invested with everyone in the town. I’m glad this was a fantastic listen, Kim!

  3. Ethan

    This sounds like one of those books that is a must read. I’ve seen several other glowing reviews, so I’ll have to add it to my audio list.

  4. Anna

    I was gifted My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry a month or so ago but I haven’t gotten around to reading– but it sounds like I’ve been missing out!

  5. Lily B

    never read anything by him, but I recently got a galley in the mail so I am super excited to try it soon <3

  6. czai

    I’ve been hoping to read this because I’ve read great things about the author (and I’m also currently reading one of his books and loving it!!). I’ll have to grab this asap! Great review!

  7. Stephanie

    This is such a beautiful review. Thank you for sharing. I loved A Man Called Ove too, I need to read his other books, they all sound equally emotional and wonderful.

  8. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I’m about 3/4 through this one right now and am loving it. I love the Friday Night Lights vibe and he really nails the whole sports mentality. Can’t wait to finish it and glad to hear it was good on audio.

    Also – a huge book blogger spoiled the “event” with her comparison books (which I won’t mention here so I don’t spoil it for everyone else), which I saw before picking it up. And I wish I’d been able to go in blind. If you know any shred about the “event” going in, then the what and who are completely obvious.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Such a shame they spoiled it for you. I agree blind is the best way and I tried to be super careful myself since I did not want to spoil it for everyone. Glad you are enjoying it!

  9. La La in the Library

    I certainly need to clear a place on my plate for one of these books. All of your Backman reviews have snagged my interest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Which one would you recommend to read first? 🙂

  10. Tyler H. Jolley

    I’m interested to see how the author sets up the conflict. Everyone really seems to be impressed. Thanks for sharing, Kimba. I’ll check it out.

  11. Dragonfly

    ooooohh maybe something emotional and well written that is 4.5 stars is what I need to get over this last reading slump! AND I love small town stories 🙂

  12. Angela

    This one sounds a bit different from what I normally read but it sounds interesting.

  13. Trish

    I always prefer going in blind. Sounds so good, but I think I’d better read a Man called Ove first, I love that you still think about that book.

  14. Laurel-Rain Snow

    The idea of so much about a hockey team almost turned me off until I read the blurb and knew there would be more to this story. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Heidi

    I was wondering about this one. It sounds wonderful. I actuallly like books all about hockey. I am going to put this on my audiobook list.

  16. Rita

    I read this a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, and it was my first book by Backman. I know, I know, I need to read A Man Called Ove. So much buzz and raves for this title and I haven’t gotten to it (yet). Didn’t know there was a movie out there too.

    I like hockey okay but was afraid that would be the whole basis for the story (went in cold also) and was happy to have all the sub-plots to weave through and dissect. I enjoyed the fleshed-out character of Benji in this. A serious, intense character-study tale that satisfies.

    Thanks for a great review! Now onto Ove!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am so glad you enjoyed this as well Rita. Be sure to add Britt-Marie Was Here to your list as well, I loved her to pieces.

  17. Angie

    Oh, wow. This sounds like an intense read! I hadn’t even heard of it. I’ll have to check this one out.

    Great review.

  18. Aj

    I haven’t read any of Backman’s books, but I have one of them on my TBR shelf. Their blurbs all sound so interesting. I love ice hockey, so I’m looking forward to Beartown.

  19. kindlemom1

    Thanks for the trigger warning. This really does sound like an emotional read. I’m so glad you loved it. It sounds like this author knows how to pack some punches in.

  20. Nick

    Now I really want to know what happened. It sounds like a powerful and very-well written story. I hadn’t heard of this author, but will be sure to rec him to my mom. It sounds right up her alley!

  21. Mrs. Bookdragon

    I really enjoyed reading your review. I just finished this book and had very similar reactions. I also went in blind, knowing that I loved A Man Called Ove, and I think it helped build the suspense because I didn’t know where it was going! Side note-I love your layout of your blog! Happy reading and blogging!

  22. RO

    I’ve never heard of this writer, but he sounds prolific with an adept way of dealing with conflict. Definitely want to check this one out, Kim. Hugs…

  23. Sophia Rose

    Oh yeah, I saw this one and thought it would be an emotional powerhouse because of what it explores. Glad it was that and it looks like more with the deft handling of the fall out part.