Apparently it’s my summer of Backman (or Spring/Summer of Backman since almost 90 degree weather day after day isn’t really summer until the calendar says so). Loved Beartown, so I am more than happy to spend time with its inhabitants in this follow up, regardless of the season.
This book picks up shortly after Beartown is turned upside down in the wake of an assault. Sides are drawn and redrawn. Narratives are rewritten. Blame is shifted. Teams are renamed. It’s a whirlwind of gaslighting, denial, anger, shame and fear. Again, sounds like just the thing NOT to read these days, but Backman chips away at all of it to get to the gooey human center. The richness of the characters’ backstories, the little tidbits dropped about their futures, and Backman’s signature foreshadowing “but that’s a different story” teasers are alive and well here. I’m not sure how he does it. A lot of the non linear story telling and teasing/withholding in order to build tension would be insanely annoying in anyone else’s hands.
I do have to admit that this was a smidge of a slow starter for me. I think I am more invested in the kids of Beartown and it took a bit more time in this second book to focus on them. It also was a little more hockey heavy and since I am in no way interested in sports, you have to get me with the human drama. All the skating and puck hitting are just the gateway for me. Once I got into the groove though, I was right back to the usual Backman induced laughing out loud/openly weeping. All the feels, as the kids say. Can’t wait for book three.