Beartown by Fredrik Backman follows the residents of the small remote town where hockey is king. Beartown has been suffering from a declining economy and increasing unemployment; they desperately need a win. Hockey may be the one place where Beartown can come out on top again. Beartown's A-team is the players only shot at the NHL and a way out. The junior team is shaping up to eventually become the best A-team the town has ever seen.
Kevin and Benji are the unstoppable duo of the current junior team. They've been playing all their lives together and are more like brothers than friends. David has been coaching them for the last 10 years in the hopes to take them with him to the A-team and go pro. They've put in all the training and all of the hours, there is nothing that can stop them. One night at an afterparty, a violent assault leaves the town and hockey team divided. Multiple players are keeping secrets and they all have the power to collapse the empire this town has been building for the last decade. Everyone in the town must take a stand and decide is hockey really everything?
I LOVED this book. I really couldn't even articulate my feelings when I got to the end. I feel like I just understood the essence of this town. I grew up in a small town where sports were big and often someone turned a blind eye. Backman expertly describes the pressure from both parents and the town to perform. He impeccably describes the struggle to figure out who you are in high school. When life seems like its over and you never think you can move on. He navigates incredibly sensitive and difficult subject matter expertly. I had tears at times and other times the hairs on my arm were standing up. Every character was so well developed that I felt like I really understood their motivations and could see why they made the decisions they did. The ending was so beautiflly done that I'm still thinking about it a week later.
Lovers of the TV series Friday Night Lights will love this one! It was so reminiscent to me! Also if you love audiobooks the narration for this one is absolutely fantastic! It pulled me right in. The sequel to Beartown is already out and called Us Against You and there is supposed to be a third book coming out in the series as well. If you like to stay with characters for awhile, you will have plenty of time in Beartown!