Beartown by Fredrik Backman

IMG_4589“Difficult questions, simple answers. What is a community?

It is the sum total of our choices.”

This new novel from Fredrik Backman may be his best yet. Beartown is a thought-provoking and emotional story of a small town that is on the verge of disappearing, with businesses closing, jobs dwindling, and trees slowly taking the place of abandoned structures. But the one thing Beartown does have, is the love of hockey. For the first time in many years, their junior hockey team has a shot at the title, and this possibility may be the opportunity Beartown needs to get itself back on the map and prosper. Their hopes and dreams rest on the shoulders of a team of young boys, which includes two rising superstars. When a shocking event and violent act leave a young girl traumatized, the small town is in chaos, leaving no resident unaffected.

“Hate can be a deeply stimulating emotion. The world becomes much easier to understand and much less terrifying if you divide everything and everyone into friends and enemies, we and they, good and evil. The easiest way to unite a group isn’t through love, because love is hard. It makes demands. Hate is simple.”

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Beartown is an incredibly well crafted novel that drew me in from the first page and completely captivated my attention throughout. What first caught my eye with this novel was that it centred around hockey, which I am a fan of and the description on the book really spoke to me. Everything surrounding the hockey aspect was portrayed brilliantly, but there is so much more to this novel. Ultimately it is not a book about hockey, but rather a story of a small community, of hope and courage, and the choices we make. Through writing that is thoroughly engaging, the author brings to life each character, each emotion, and the town itself. Quite simply, Beartown does what great books do; it makes you feel.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman

BLOG“Every seven-year-old deserves a superhero. That’s just how it is.”

Elsa is seven years old, almost eight. Her best friend is her grandmother, who is quite eccentric to say the least. She tells Elsa fairy tales of the Kingdom of Miamas and the Land of Almost-Awake, in which Elsa finds great comfort. Upon her death, she leaves Elsa a series of letters as part of a treasure hunt. Letters saying she’s sorry and that Elsa is to deliver to the recipients, who are people that have been an important part of her grandmother’s life. Each letter and each encounter reveal new information about Elsa’s grandma, her life, and the significance of fairy tales.

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises is a quirky and unique story with memorable, larger than life characters. Elsa is an endearing, precocious little protagonist, and the relationship between her and her grandmother is sweet and special. The story has the charm and humour of Fredrik Backman’s previous novel A Man Called Ove, blending together the fairy tales told by her grandmother and Elsa’s real life story. It can seem a little complex at times, however you don’t need to try too hard to keep track of all the different aspects, as eventually everything falls into place and we get to see how it all connects. If you enjoyed A Man Called Ove, you should add Mr. Backman’s latest novel to your reading list.

Favourite quote: “People in the real world always say, when something terrible happens, that the sadness and loss and aching pain of the heart will “lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true. Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the whole time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it. The sadness would paralyze us. So in the end we just pack it into bags and find somewhere to leave it.”