Book 18 on My Book List 2019
”Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled 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.”
WHAT AN OPENING LINE!!!
WHAT A BOOK!!
It’s been two weeks since I finished this book (or did the book finish me?!) and I still haven’t managed to get over the experience of “Beartown”. Truth be told, I think I never will. This is a book that stays with you. It buries itself into your soul, little by little, page by page, word by word. It claws its way into your heart, consumes you, ignites you, sets you aflame just to be able to extinguish the fire once it burns. With kindness, with love, with compassion.
Every single sentence hurt, every page cut deep, and every paragraph let me lose hope in humanity and rebuilt it once again.
I find myself incapable to convey how much this book touched me. I can’t express how badly it hurt, how beautiful it was or how much it made me wish to jump right into the book and to hug some of the characters. There was no chapter that didn’t pack a punch. Fredrick Backman’s writing style… it’s not from this world. There is so much wisdom between the pages, so many gestures and actions that seem to be miniscule at the moment you read them, but in the end they add up and are so much more once you get to that final punchline right between the lines. And once realization dawns on you, once you connect the dots and get aware of the bigger picture, you find yourself gasping for air.
”This sport demands only one thing from you. Your all.”
So what happened after two weeks? I went to the library and saw “Beartown” in the shelves. I had tears in my eyes just looking at the book so my bestie asked me what it is about and I tried to explain it to her. “It’s a book about hockey in a small-town but it’s also about so much more than that”, I said, grasping for the right words to explain the inexplicable. How do you sum up a book like “Beartown”? How do you express the meaning between the lines? The subtle hints, the humanity written on those pages? The good as well as the bad parts of a two-sided coin that’s called humankind?
”It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.”
I know I’m being so vague here, BUT BOY, this is a book you better experience for yourself! This is the kind of book you read without knowing where it will lead, the kind of book that’s best read when you go into it blind and have no clue about what you’re getting yourself into. I can guarantee you one thing though, once you start to read it you won’t be able to stop and once you reached the ending you won’t be the same anymore. “Beartown” is one of those books that should be a classic and that, no doubt, will be one day! Some of the characters in here are amazing and each and every one of them is human and has its flaws. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. I loved so many of them and I hated or disliked a lot of them as well. Backman wrote a study of humanity and “Beartown” isn’t just a book about hockey it’s about people and their lives as well. And since I’m already talking about the characters I might as well give you a short introduction:
There might be mild spoilers ahead so if you don’t want to be spoiled you better stop here and don’t continue to read my review. Also the spoilers that are marked are the real deal so you better be careful with clicking those. 😛
”Her little Benjamin, the fighter with whom it’s far too easy for the girls of Beartown to fall in love. The boy with the most handsome face, the saddest eyes and the wildest heart they’ve ever seen.”
I loved Benji so much!!! He’s the best and I would die for this boy!! <333 I hated to see him suffer, yet he never gave up. He did what he had to do, he’s the most loyal guy you’ll ever find, but even though he loves his friends fiercely and would do everything for them he also knows what’s wrong and what’s right and it might have killed him… Hell, it DID kill him, but he still decided to do what was right and I’ll forever love him for it! I’d read “Us Against You” just to see him once again! Benji deserves the world!!!
”Here he is burdened with too much that no one sees, and here he has hockey. The team, the guys, Kevin. They mean everything to him, so he is everything they want him to be. And that’s a terrible thing. Having to keep a secret from those you love.”
”Ana was a tornado. A jagged, hundred-sided peg in a community where everyone was supposed to fit into round holes.”
Ana was such an amazing friend as well! I loved her friendship with Maya, how they could rely on each other, how she was basically a part of Maya’s family. Those two girls were so different but they were also the same and their relationship was so beautiful to witness.
”I know you’d have killed for me, Mum. I know you’d have given your life for me. But we’re going to get through this, you and me. Because I’m your daughter I’ve got wolf’s blood.”
I’m in awe of Maya! This girl was so strong and Kira has every reason to be proud of her daughter. I don’t know what I would have done… but Maya, she did the best she could do. She even looked out for her brother and her friends and she never backed down. I’ve never seen a braver girl and I swear Maya’s relationship with her parents was one of the best things in this book! ❤
She had every freaking reason to go through with it, she could have pulled the trigger but she didn’t. She decided against it and that’s strength!! She gave him a taste of her fear and I think that taught him a lesson he will never forget. To die would have been easy, to live with the consequences of what he did, that’s the really hard thing and I’m sure he’ll never forget it.
Kira & Peter Andersson:
”Not a second has passed since she had children without her feeling like a bad mother. For everything. For not understanding, for being impatient, for not knowing everything, for not making better packed lunches, for still wanting more out of life than just being a mother.”
Kira and Peter were my favourite couple of this book! They’ve been married for years, went through thick and thin together and yet they still love each other so much that it killed me! T_T Their scenes were so amazing and you could literally feel their strong bond. Also the way they interacted with their children, how they would have defended them with teeth and claws (Kira) and how they would hug away their pain (Peter) was EVERYTHING! I swear I strive to be a parent like that! ❤ Kira and Peter are role models and I can only hope that my own kid will love and trust me as much as Maya loved and trusted her parents. Hell, I’d die for both of them too! <333
”That may have been how they survived, Kira realizes: thanks to the ability not to fall apart at the same time.”
“Love me like you love hockey and David Bowie?”
“So much more, Pumpkin, much, much more.”
”I didn’t want the bastards to see me bleed,” she whispers to her mother.
“Sometimes I’m afraid that they’re going to have to. To understand that you’re a real person,” her mother sobs, clutching her daughter so very, very tightly in her arms.
”Do you think I’m less of a man because I can’t fight?” he whispers.
“Do you think I’m less of a woman because I can?” she asks.
The Erdahl family:
”What did you get wrong? Perfection isn’t a goal in the Erdahl family, it’s the norm.”
I didn’t like Kevin’s father but I liked his mother. She did the right thing even though it must have been so tough for her. Her heart-to-heart with Benji killed me and I was at least as devastated after their conversation as they were. This hurt so much. >_<
Gods, this must be one of the worst things ever. To know that your own son raped a girl and to deal with that knowledge. You still love your child and want the best for it, yet you KNOW that it did something horrible and totally wrong. How do you deal with something like that? I hope I’ll never find out. Also her knowing that Kevin could never lie to his best friend and that this is the reason why Benji kept away from her son. Everything about their heart-to-heart broke me! This was such a powerful scene! I think I’ll never get over it. T_T
”Benji tries to light a cigarette. His hands are shaking too much to hold the lighter. His tears extinguish the flame.”
Amat & Fatima:
”He’ll allow her aching fingers to rest and give her aching back a break. He doesn’t want possessions. He just wants to lie in bed one single night without having to count.”
Those two had such a wonderful relationship! Amat loved his mother so much and she raised him well! I loved how Amat made the right choices even though he knew it would cost him everything. He didn’t run away, he faced the consequences and he fought for the truth. I’m sure Fatima is very proud of him because heaven knows, I AM!
”You know that my eyes work better than anyone else’s in here. Because that’s the first thing you learn on the Beartown Ice Hockey Club, isn’t it? You can’t teach that way of seeing. That’s something you’re born with.”
”I only need one man: my son. And you’re not alone. You’ve never been alone. You just need to be better at choosing the company you keep.”
I was so conflicted about his character! At the beginning of the book I didn’t like him, then he started to grow on me, then there was a time I didn’t like him once again and at the ending I still kind of loved him?! AHHH! I didn’t agree with a lot of the things he said and did, but I also loved him for some of the things he didn’t say and didn’t do. Does that make sense? >_<
”That’s betrayal. David knows it’s a huge betrayal. There’s no other way to explain how much a grown man must have failed as a person if such a warrior of a boy could believe that his coach would be less proud of him if he were gay. David hates himself for not being better than his dad. That’s the job of sons.”
At first I thought he was disgusted by Benji being gay but then I realized that he was disgusted with himself for making jokes about being gay when he was with the team. That he hated himself for not realizing that Benji was gay and for making him hurt with his words and actions. He loathed himself for not giving Benji a safe enough environment to tell them the truth. I don’t agree with his stance on Peter and the way Kevin was taken away from the bus though and I totally agree with Sune here. One day when his own kid is at Maya’s age, David will feel differently and will realize that there are more important things than hockey. Your own kid always comes first and hockey is nothing compared to the well-being of your child.
”This town doesn’t always know the difference between right and wrong. I’ll admit that. But we know the difference between good and evil.”
I ADORE THIS WOMAN!!! <33 She might be grumpy and rough but she has her heart at the right place and that’s everything that counts. In a world dominated by men she stood her ground and forced them to see the truth. I just loved how all those grown men listened to her and acknowledged her opinion. This woman is one hell of a bear and more man than any of them! XD
I’ll never be able to put all of my emotions into words so I’ll just go with my initial thoughts after finishing the book and hope that they’ll give you a good impression of how I feel about “Beartown”:
I’m an emotional wreck.
I’m Backman trash.
Throw me in a dustbin and close the lid.