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. Continue reading

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Review of Beartown

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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.
Continue reading

Review of And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

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And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Atria Books

November 1, 2016


Earlier this year I provided reviews on two Fredrik Backman novels: A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. The very first book of the year I read, but didn’t offer a review here was: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. And, with And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, I have bookended my year with Fredrick Backman.

I started reading this novella in public yesterday morning and then hastily stopped as my eyes filled with tears and since I was in public and had mascara on, well, let’s just say that I thought it best to wait to read until I was alone and had tissues.

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a generational story about a grandfather, his son, Ted, and then grandson, Noah. Noah and his grandfather both love numbers. They understand each other as only two like souls can understand each other. As the story unfolds, we come to learn that the grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The title describes the passage the grandfather’s mind must take to the present. Noah is wise beyond his years. While the interactions between Noah and his grandfather remind me of Elsa and her grandmother from Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, I find here the relationship is one of grace, purity of spirit. It is an embodiment of all the good in human beings without overtones of religion.

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer touches on the fear of growing old and death, the losing of the capacity for thinking when it has been your raison d’etre, but it also embraces love in all of its forms from the wife already lost, to the son who has been sometimes made to feel missing, to the grandson who is hope.

Obviously my tears prove that this one pulls at your heart-strings, but the source is truth rather than the schmaltz that many contemporary writers draw upon to make the reader feel.

If you are a lover of poetry and language as I am, stepping into Backman’s world is the loveliest of dreams, where words are like drifting on a lake on a hot summer afternoon; they draw you in and mesmerize you. If you are like me, you will be touched by reading this beautiful story of life and will be thinking about it long after you’ve closed the cover.

Highly recommended. I am making it my “best read of the year.”

I received an ARC from Atria and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon: And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer


rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly (5 out of 5 butterflies and any extra that I have)


 

Review of Britt-Marie Was Here

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Britt-Marie Was Here

I am tempted to say that Britt-Marie Was Here is a book about heart. Instead, I will say that it is heart. It’s about leaving your security when you’re no longer young, starting over, breaking out of the shell you’ve lived in for practically your entire life. It’s about opening up your world and your life and, yes, your heart and embracing life and learning happiness and understanding. It’s about tolerance and acceptance and bravery and justice.

If you read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, you met Britt-Marie. She was implacable and disliked, but as is the case with Fredrik Backman’s novels, the reader came to understand her at the end. Her story continues in Britt-Marie Was Here.

You might think that of all of the characters in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry that Britt-Marie was an odd choice to invest an entire novel on. There were more interesting characters certainly but after reading this novel, I can assure you that the choice was wise.

Britt-Marie is like an old child or an immigrant who comes to a country barely speaking the language. She goes to the employment agency looking for a job. She hasn’t had once in forty years and there looks like there’s nothing for her except for a poorly paying job as a caretaker of a recreation facility in a town, Borg, no one’s ever heard of. She takes the job. Despite speaking the same language as Borg’s inhabitants, she frequently has no idea of what they are saying.

At first, it seems as if Borg and Britt-Marie are destined to rub each other the wrong way, but soon they grow on each other. Britt-Marie becomes the coach of the soccer team despite disliking soccer and knowing nothing about it except that it made her husband, Kent, exuberant.

She soon discovers that soccer is like life. Soccer teaches her about friendships and passion and enthusiasm, which she has lacked for such a long time. Through soccer and the relationships she acquires because of it, she learns to live again and to take chances, despite the fact that it was her late sister who was the one to take chances.

However, so you aren’t misled, this is really not a novel about soccer. It’s a novel of discovery.

I fell in love with this book much the same way as I fell in love with A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, but maybe more so. I felt myself clinging to and savoring each word. There are laughs and tears and none are forced. The philosophy of Britt-Marie Was Here is one of gentle hope and understanding in a world where little is guaranteed.

I very highly recommend Britt-Marie Was Here.

I was provided a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From Amazon: Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel

Rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly(5 out of 5 butterflies)

Review of A Man Called Ove

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The first book I read this year was My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel by Swedish author, Fredrik Backman. It was a captivating book that left me wanting more so I quickly put Backman’s first book, A Man Called Ove, on hold at the library. I have been listening to the book during my commutes or when doing kitchen tasks and, as I neared the end, I began to wish it would never end.

Ove is a curmudgeon. He has a strict routine that he follows every day. There is also a certain way to do things: the right way. He is most definitely the man in the neighborhood who would shake his fist at you if you stepped on his lawn. He can come across as mean, judgmental, and intolerant. But Ove wasn’t always like that and, even now, he’s not completely like that.

A family moves in next door to Ove and the first thing that happens is that Ove’s mailbox is toppled over because Patrick, the new neighbor, can’t back a trailer. How can a grown man not know how to back in a trailer? Ove fumes. Patrick’s wife, Parveneh, also doesn’t understand. And so it begins. Ove’s life starts to be invaded by Parveneh and Patrick and their two daughters and then by other people in the neighborhood. Ove’s isolation is whittled away.

A Man Called Ove moves between the present and past seamlessly. The scenes dealing with the past are written with finesse and show how Ove has been shaped into his present form.

This book seems irreverent in some ways because Ove comes across as irreverent, but Ove also possesses a deep understanding and sympathy that arises frequently, startling even himself, perhaps.

Reading A Man Called Ove is like peeling an onion. There is layer after layer after layer after layer until you come to its heart. This heart is big. It is also funny and philosophical and bittersweet and enveloping. It is the best friend with whom you have shared life’s tragedies, joys, secrets, and capers.

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

I found myself laughing at many of the incidents and then as the end neared, crying. For me, that is a sign of a great book if it can take you from either end of the spectrum and still be true to itself. I would love to find more words to say so that I can carrying on gushing about this beautiful book, but perhaps we’ll just leave it with this: I highly recommend this book.

From Amazon: A Man Called Ove: A Novel


Rating: butterflybutterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly(5 out of 5 butterflies)