Review of Beartown



Fredrik Backman

April 25, 2017

Atria Books

Blurb from Goodreads: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

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. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. 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.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


If you were only able to read one book this year, Beartown is the one I would recommend.

In this book about a town where hockey is everything, Fredrik Backman explores the human condition, what people hold as their priorities and how they react when faced with difficult questions. If I thought his previous novels showed heart, Beartown shows heart, soul, empathy, compassion, and wisdom. It’s the one single light in a very dark tunnel.

Beartown is a microcosm of the world. Amazingly it feels as if Backman has tackled almost every civil issue within the scope of these 432, showing what it means to be human and react in a humane way. Likewise, the flipside of that coin is also shown: how a victim can be made to feel guilty and how the guilty are made out to be victims; how money and greed permit men to believe they can behave any way they want; and how easy it is to antagonize and bully others because of their lack of status or different ethnicity.

In the thoughtful manner in which it’s told, Beartown reminded me at the outset of another novel in which a town faces a tragedy, The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks. But there is a gentleness to Beartown, even when nastiness seems to prevail, that leaves the reader feeling as there is always hope. I fell in love with the characters and the storytelling and wanted to get to the end, but never wanted it to end.

I started reading Beartown after a particularly unfulfilling read because I felt I deserved to read Fredrik Backman’s newest novel. I received more than I expected. This novel took me on an emotional roller coaster of joy and expectation and fear and tears. And, yes, even though I felt that the ending was satisfying, tears coursed over my cheeks as I read the last words.

Now I have to figure out what’s beyond 5 out of 5 butterflies.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From AmazonBeartown

rating:  5-butterflies+++++++

5 out of 5 butterflies and +++++++

4 thoughts on “Review of Beartown

  1. Wow! After reading your review, I feel like rushing out and buying this book. I love reading books that take you somewhere else both in terms of location and emotions. Sounds fantastic.
    Thanks for putting me onto it…I think. I start going on a budget tomorrow, writing down everything I buy. Humph…
    xx Rowena

    1. I am a big library supporter, but I did buy for someone as a gift after reading it and loving it. Maybe you can find it at your library. I don’t know if the libraries there have the number of electronic books that my county now has. It’s a brilliant system. 🙂

      1. If I really like a book, I write in it and underline it and really get into it. This book sounds like one that would be tough to part with.
        I haven’t been into a library for ages as I dread getting the books back late. Or, losing them in our stash. They do have electronic books. My husband works at Macquarie University in Sydney and much of their library content is electronic now. They also have this huge robot to find things. You can read about it here:
        It’s rather cool and redefines the librarian.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.