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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Ak

Beartown Will Rip Your Heart Out

The book, Beartown, kept on a white surface. An origami ice hockey stick is lying diagonally such that the bottom of the stick is at the left of the book. A black ice hockey puck is also lying to the left of the book.

Bang-bang. Bang. Bang-bang-bang-bang.

The sound can be heard at all hours of the day in Beartown. It’s a hockey town, after all. A town where no one is an atheist because hockey is God.

Usually, it’s Kevin or Amat or one of the other kids training.

But sometimes, you can’t tell.

It could be a gunshot. Maybe someone killed a wild animal in the forest. The forest is close to the remote, far-away town.

Or maybe it’s the sound of someone taking their own life, like Benji’s dad did.

After all, Beartown is a sad town. A depressed one. One that counts so much on winning that it’s forgotten how to bear loss.

Hockey is supposed to bring Beartown on the map. Winning the tournament will make the remote, nobody town famous! That’ll surely bring tourists to the town. After all, who doesn’t love hockey champions? Tourists will mean development and that’ll mean employment. The team MUST win.

But just before the final, a brutal, disturbing act threatens this bright future.

The act divides the town.

After all, who should they believe?

It’s not easy, you know. Depending on a sport to raise a whole town to recognition. Making sure nothing stops that from happening – not least an upstart who suddenly wants to go around throwing accusations at innocent hockey players.

But what if…what if the upstart is telling the truth?

No one wants to face that.

Because if what the upstart says is true, Beartown’s bright, hopeful future might go up in flames, as ephemeral as it ever was.

And how will the town ever recover then?


Beartown by Fredrik Backman is about many things. Hockey, small-town life, passion, love, hate, toxic masculinity, winning, losing…and most importantly, people and their relationships.

Over the first half of the book, Backman shows you Beartown in all its raw glory. He makes you care about everything in the town, from the people to even ice hockey (a sport you never gave a second thought to before)!

Then with one scene, he brings it all crashing down, peeling back the layers and showing you everyone’s flaws. The story breaks you in subtle ways, and everything hits harder because of the simple truths in it.

Do I recommend the book to everyone? Well, no. It’s extremely heavy and can shatter you in ways you’d never anticipate. So I loved it, yes, but if you want to pick it up, proceed with caution, please.

About the Author

The author, Fredrik Backman, wearing a grey denim shirt, standing against a dark grey background
Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish author, blogger and columnist whose books have been published around the world in more than 25 languages. He grew up in Helsingbord, Scania, Sweden and writes regularly for the Swedish newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad and men’s magazine Moore Magazine.

He is married to Neda Shafti Backman and has two children. His second book, Things My Son Needs to Know about the World, was based on his own experiences with parenting. He currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and children.


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