I adored A Man Called Ove. I had wanted to read another book by Backman, but there are really just so many books and so little time. I kept hearing great things about Beartown and so when I saw this on Netgalley, I put a request in for it and then decided I really needed to know more about Beartown first. I decided to listen to the audiobook of Beartown and I was so glad I did.
Fredrick Backman in addition to being an amazing writer, is someone who has a gift for observing people and creating characters that readers see themselves in. I can relate to every single one of his characters–whether it’s that they remind me of what it was like to be young or parents in whom I see myself now. There is such hope, such resilience, such faith in these characters. Backman has a way of showing us ourselves and reminding us that we share this experience and as bruised and raw and emotional and upset we are, it’s ok, because we are ultimately all in this thing called life together.
Us Against You is a continuation of Beartown. We get to catch up with Bobo, Kevin, Amat, Ana, Benji, Maya and Ana after Beartown. This working class town is still in trouble, but they have a new coach, many of their best hockey players have transferred to Hed and there is a new politician in town who has an agenda that is not necessarily in Beartown’s best interest.
I kept thinking something bad was going to happen and that was what kept me reading, I wanted to find out what it was. Although I really liked this book, I didn’t love it as much as I loved Beartown, I felt like some of the new characters were not as well developed and I found the whole politics and sports thing to not be an escape from life, but a reminder of some of the more annoying aspects of reality.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Atria books for my advance copy.
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown returns with an unforgettable novel “about people—about strength and tribal loyalty and what we unwittingly do when trying to show our boys how to be men” (Jojo Moyes).
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.
Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.
Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.