4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

4/5

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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.

My Review:

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.

From Publisher:

 

5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Beartown by Fredrick Backman

5/5 stars

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I read and LOVED A Man Called Ove, but somehow, I never read this one, however, once I started book blogging and bookstagramming, I saw so many excellent reviews of this book, that I was intrigued.  And, maybe it wasn’t the best decision, but in a moment of pure haste, I put a Netgalley request in for Us Against You and then decided I really should read Beartown first.  I actually had quite a few other books to read and this is a pretty big book, so I decided to get the audiobook from the library, figuring I could listen on my nightly walks or when weeding around my tomato plants.

I was super excited to get started and when my daughter was not feeling well, we decided to sit in my office in the dark and start listening.  We were both HOOKED!  We loved the background on all of the characters, although we had a hard time keeping them straight at first, but as the story progressed we were more and more able to remember who was who.  We found ourselves transported to a different place and we felt like we were part of what was going on…the factory hemorrhaging jobs, the hockey rivalry, the family life.

My daughter found herself relating to Ana and Maya, Amat, Kevin, Benji and Robby.  While I found myself identifying with Keira and Ramona.  David and Kira reminded me a lot of Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor.  Actually I was reminded of Friday Night Lights (one of my favorite shows EVER) a lot while we listened to this audiobook.

I appreciate how so many authors are using their medium to bring about awareness of social issues.  In Beartown, a character is raped.  “he touched her as if her body didn’t belong to her, but was something he had earned.  No one would ask about this, they would ask how much resistance she put up, if she was clear about saying no”.  She would be asked about the alcohol and the marijuana, she would never forget the terror that she felt.  Backman makes a statement about boys who are privileged, who have gotten a lot of what they want and believe they can have anything they want and girls who are made to feel that they are at fault for being violated even when the rapist’s finger prints are visible on their neck and wrists in a sign of force.  I hope everyone reading this book is more aware of rape, aware of how our society views rape and blames the victim and I hope the readers become passionate about changing this, about believing and victim and supporting them and not supporting this system.

I love Backman’s insightful way of writing about life.  Although this is a story about the trials of a small, working class rural town, it is also an observation of life…of families, of marriages, of teenagers, of love, of life, of what it really means to be on a team, of protecting those we love, of unrealized hopes and dreams.  This book dealt with teenage drug use, homosexuality, suicide, marriage issues, and aging wise role models.  I could find something of myself in every single character and it made me think about the shared human experience and how important books and art are so that we can see ourselves and know that we are not alone.