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 is a speck of a place. High unemployment, it’s run down, and has seen better days. With the prospect of the junior hockey team of finally making it to the national semi- finals , the fate of the town rests on a handful of boys.
This book is one that reflects a deep love of hockey in a small town. The pride and the way of life that it has become is just as important as breathing, is well written. Kevin is the local golden boy, has the hopes of winning the semi final rests on his and Benji’s shoulders. Two friends who can read each others thoughts when they are on the ice. They are chalk and cheese but the friendship works well for both boys.
Maya and Ana have the same kind of friendship. Two girls who formed a life long bond when Ana saved Maya when they were children.
The dynamic of both sets of friends gets tested but it’s how well a friendship can survive a life changing event that makes this story.
This book is about is about the bonds of friendship. New ones formed, old ones under strain and some that just don’t survive. I love how that theme was woven in with hockey. The characters are varied and strongly written. While you know who the perpitrator and victim are its how the community reacts that is a big focal point halfway through the book.
I was captivated by this book. You get drawn into both sides of the event and all the while I was cheering for certain characters as well as feeling lukewarm to others only to have my feelings change as the story went on.
I have read all of Mr. Backman’s books and have loved them all for various reasons but find that with each book they become stronger. The varied themes that he writes about is something else I love about him. He can write about the elderly and young alike and gives each character and story a depth that is wonderful to read.
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.