This book needs to be required reading for older middle school, or first year high schoolers. I can’t think of a more instructive book about the intoxicating nature of power and popularity and the primal pull of self preservation. If you add any tool to a child’s life skills toolbox, let it be empathy. With empathy comes strength, resilience and just being a decent freaking human being. We could use more of that in the world.
The subject matter here is something that could easily swerve into “Afterschool Special” territory. A cautionary tale about the dangers of putting young male athletes on pedestals, locker room “humor” and victim blaming isn’t new material. Small town gossip and prejudice isn’t a new concept either, but Backman weaves both together in an intricate and heartbreakingly beautiful story about a town surrounded by forest where hockey is everything and everything is for hockey.
Still very sorry to be late to the Backman party. When I think that I had his books languishing in my Goodreads To Read list all this time! Ugh. After reading Anxious People, I had to FINALLY get this title off the list and into my hands. Was not disappointed. I am all about the character development and Backman delivers in spades. While Anxious People had a little comical levity, Beartownis more of a melancholy slow burn but it maintains the same keen eye for human frailties; cutting down to the soul of someone with a five word sentence. Am I gushing? I think I’m gushing here. There’s nothing like finding an author that speaks to you and knowing that you have several more books just waiting in the wings.