I read Beartown by Fredrik Backman a couple of months ago and just have not felt able to blog about the book as it deserves. I still don't. It is an absolutely wonderful book that is full of wisdom and life lessons. One would not suspect that a book about a hockey team for adolescent boys would be so inspiring.
The story is about a hockey team in Sweden in Beartown. Beartown was a very small town in the middle of a forest. The only thing going for the town was their junior hockey team. The hockey team was good enough that it was competing in the national semi-finals. And that meant everything for the small community. Until something happened involving the star of the team.
Kevin was the star of the team and every girl's dream. After winning a game one night, his parents were gone and he had a party at his home. Maya, the team manager's daughter, was at the party and the center of Kevin's attention. Things went wrong quickly, leaving Maya traumatized.
"One of the many things snatched from the girl that night is the place where she never needed to feel afraid. Everyone has a place like that, until it gets taken away from us. You never get it back again. Maya will feel afraid everywhere from now on."
After a short time went by, Maya finally told her parents what had happened, and Beartown was never the same again. As accusations flew around town, old secrets were revealed. And the town had to figure out how to survive with each other.
The characters in the book are so well-developed that it was easy to be invested in each of them. The love, friendship and concerns of the various townspeople were tested. The writing in the book was superb.
"Until he put a record on. Perhaps it was something about the old record-player--the crackle in the speakers, the voices filling the room--but Isak fell completely silent. Then he smiled. And then he fell asleep in Peter's arms. That's the last time Peter can remember really feeling like a good father. The last time he had been able to tell himself that he actually knew what he was doing. He's never told Kira that, has never told anyone. But now he buys records in secret because he keeps hoping that feeling might come back, if only for a moment."
My favorite theme in the book was from Maya's mom:
"You never have the sort of friends you have when you're fifteen every again. Even if you keep them for the rest of your life, it's never the same as it was then."So true, in various ways. This is a great book, that I am sure will land in my top five for 2018.