Review of Us Against You

Us Against You: A Novel (Beartown) by [Backman, Fredrik]

Us Against You

Fredrik Backman

Atria Books

June 5, 2018

Blurb from Amazon

Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did.
Have you ever seen a town rise? Ours did that, too. 

A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.

Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.

Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.


Like life, Fredrik Backman’s novels are not just about one thing: games, life, death, love, friendship, or loyalty. They embody them all, embrace them, show them through an objective lens so that the reader perhaps also views them as he does his own world.

In Beartown, we were introduced to the residents of Beartown, a town in the middle of a forest where the people work hard. Us Against You picks up where Beartown left off, but could easily be read as a standalone–why you’d want to miss out on Beartown, however, I wouldn’t know. You can read my review of that novel here.

…this summer he learns that people will always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth […] the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.

Backman’s style, omniscient doused with a hefty (but beautiful) dose of philosophy, may be off-putting to some readers who prefer a more straightforward narrative, but a reader can soon become engrossed in Us Against You and find the narration as interesting, and again beautiful, as the story.

One year? What wouldn’t we give for one more year? A year is an eternity.

For me, this is one of those novels that you don’t want to put down just as much as you want to race to discover the ending. It brought me to tears as many times as it made me laugh, but it also made me think. Backman never shoves his thoughts in his reader’s face. He places them gently, cajoles you into looking at an issue from various perspectives.

There are two types of people now. Some of them need more time, and some need more sense.

As I have with every previous one of his novels, I felt so much heart. There are no evil characters. They are multi-faceted. Everyone, to paraphrase, is good and bad, and Backman embraces them all.

With the exception of the politician Richard Theo, a man who plays puppet-master with the lives of the people of Beartown and Hed. He is an unemotional manipulator who frequently plays both sides, pits people against each other, and comes out smelling like a rose. And there is no sign that karma will find him. Perhaps there will be a third novel in the series, and we will see Richard Theo crumble much in the way most of us would like to see manipulative, self-interested politicians crumble.

For me, there was so much to love about Us Against You, and I could easily continue to write about the simple game of hockey, sticks, a net, and a puck, or how people find great love, which they lose, or how others rediscover great love, or how others lose their way but find a new path. Instead, I’ll just recommend that you add this one to you TBR pile. If you haven’t read Beartown yet, add that one as well.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Us Against You goes on sale on June 5. You can pre-order it from Amazon here: Us Against You

rating: 5-butterflies

5 out of 5 butterflies

8 thoughts on “Review of Us Against You

    1. At first (probably my surroundings) the beginning didn’t weave me in, but upon finishing, I think it might be better than Beartown. It left me hoping that he writes more about these characters. Just hours done and I miss them!

      1. I liked Beartown, but had a hard time with some of the material – I think I would like to read a book about the town and hockey. The characters are sooo good. I am excited to read it!

      2. I think I understand. One of my friends loved the book but not the subject matter. It is tough. Tougher for women.
        And, yes, I said to someone earlier this evening, I wish he hadn’t written another Beartown book because I have gotten so attached to these characters. I love them, maybe more than any characters I can remember loving. They seem so real. I love Benji in this one, I think I quite liked him in Beartown, but in this one. Yes. Just so many good characters, so well rounded.

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