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Fredrik Backman
Atria Books, 2017
Source: E-Galley
Audience: Adults, Older Teens

From Goodreads:
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.

Well, I was expecting something just as fabulous as A Man Called Ove. What I got was completely different. Think Friday Night Lights, but replace football in Texas with hockey in Sweden. At the beginning, Beartown was all about the hockey team and its many players. It focused on their team's history and hockey-playing abilities. It was boring, and I wasn’t interested. Beartown had the same soul as A Man Called Ove, but instead of focusing on relationships, it was all about the game - something I’m not interested in.

*Spoiler Alert*

Then, right when I thought I understood all of the many characters, a hockey player raped a teen, and everything became sad and depressing - depressing because it was probably an accurate portrayal of what would happen in a small hockey town. (Honestly, I’m including this part in my review because I think it’s important to say what the traumatic event is in the description. I probably wouldn’t have read it had I known about the rape.) I was determined to make it to the end of the book, but the ending wasn’t worth it. Necessary changes come to Beartown because of the rape, but how can you have a happy ending when rape is involved? You can’t.

Side gripes:
1. Fortunately for Backman, I am in the minority. Everyone else on Goodreads LOVES this book.
2. If Beartown is all one word, why does the title on the cover of the book look like it’s split into two words? It doesn’t make sense.