Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2016)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First Lines: "Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there."
Summary: Beartown is a small town in a land that has nine months of cold weather. For years hockey has been what unites the people of the town. But it has been many years since they were the best. The current A-team has made it to the semi-final game where they will play the best team in the division. The hopes of people young and old are pressing on the team.
The star of the team is Kevin. Kevin's parents haven't been to one of his games in years and they won't be at the semi-final game because they will be out of town. Kevin plans to host a party for the team afterward. Unfortunately, a violent act is committed at the party that will change the course of many lives. Can the town survive? Is hockey really the most important thing?
My thoughts: This book was definitely out of my comfort zone. I chose to read it because I saw the movie A Man Called Ove and loved the quirky characters created by Fredrik Backman. My son read Ove and liked it. I heard about Beartown from a few different sources and thought I might like to read it. So I put it on my list of books to read in 2020. That is why I chose to finish the book. The amount of profanity and vulgarity in the book would have caused me to put it down unfinished. However, because I committed to reading it I persisted.
It is definitely a difficult read in regards to the circumstances. The characters are memorable and diverse. One of the main themes I saw in the book is that of parenting. Several of the characters are young people and their parents are part of their story. Some have two parents, some one. Most of the parents find it difficult to communicate with their teenage child. Most of the parents are permissive and allow their teenage child to lie to them or others without restraint. The author did a good job of portraying how parents suffer when a child has been harmed.
"They wanted an enemy. Now they've got one. And now they don't know if they ought to sit next to their daughter or hunt down the person who harmed her, if they ought to help her live or see to it that he dies. Unless they're the same thing. Hate is so much easier than its opposite.
Parents don't heal. Nor do children."
This is definitely a heavy story dealing with difficult subject matter, but there are glimmers of hope. I probably would not have finished the book if that had not been the case. There are kind words spoken amidst the hate. There are kind actions amidst fighting. Truth is told even though no one believes it. Even though amends are not made by the end, situations are accepted and lives move on. As bleak as the story was, there was hope at the end.