I’m so stereotypically Canadian, that I picked this up because of the hockey game on the cover. True story. #sorrynotsorry
Beartown is a small rural village (in what I’m assuming is Sweden, although I don’t think it ever specified) that is slowly dying. Their only hope for economic revival is their junior hockey team – a championship win will secure them as the site for a new elite hockey academy which will bring people and businesses back to the area.
But before that final game, at a drunken teenage party, the star player rapes the coach’s daughter. What follows is an infuriating, and yet sadly accurate, story of how sports and privilege intertwine. While it might be a fictional novel, it’s a story that has played out on the news so many times.
I loved the hockey side of it, and found it to be so eerily accurate as far as how small towns rally around what is essentially children playing a game. I’m sure there is an American correlation with football (or basketball? baseball? depending on geography?), but the hockey world is what this Canadian girl knows inside & out, and MAN was it true to my life. It made me miss all the good things that came with being part of a team.
But I hated how MAD the heavy themes in this book made me – solely because of how accurate those were portrayed as well. It screamed of Brock Turner and others like him; how we live in a culture that for some reason equates athletic skill to quality of character, and how the more privileged the accused is, the more likely the victim is to be blamed. While the rape storyline was the primary plot, the book also addressed so many other injustices – racism, classism, homophobia – and all in relation to their existence in the world of sports, which are rare and valuable conversations to have.