Review: Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded town. And that rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior hockey team is about to compete in the national championships, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of the town now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

A victory would send star player Kevin onto a brilliant professional future in the NHL. It would mean everything to Amat, a scrawny fifteen-year-old treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice. And it would justify the choice that Peter, the team’s general manager, and his wife, Kira, made to return to his hometown and raise their children in this beautiful but isolated place.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Hers is a story no one wants to believe since the truth would mean the end of the dream. Accusations are made, and like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Have you ever read a book that’s kind of depressing and really inspiring at the same time? That’s Beartown.

To be perfectly honest, I really had no interest in this book, despite all the amazing reviews. I just didn’t think it sounded like it would be for me. But then a friend lent it to me (thanks Brandie!) and after it sat on my table for a month, I finally felt like giving it a try. And now it’s one of my favorite books of the year. Though it took me a little while to really get into the rhythm of the writing, once I did I was completely enthralled. It’s beautiful and insightful and will be sticking with me for a long time.

The story is very character driven. There is a very large cast of characters in this town and they all play a part and provide a unique perspective. I thought I would have trouble keeping them all straight, but I really didn’t. While it did make the pacing a little slow, Backman really lets us get to know all the characters. I had my favorites and I had those I hated and some characters I both loved and hated. They were real and relatable and heartbreaking and inspiring.

“…Most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

I thought this was going to just be a sports book and even though I knew something bad was going to happen, I wasn’t expecting it to be so heavy. I thought this was one of the most honest books I have every read and that honesty will both make you despair and and give you hope.

Overall, I really loved Beartown. I know this little review doesn’t come close to expressing how much. I was incredibly invested in the characters and their town and I know this story will be with me for a long time. The writing was beautiful and sometimes I found myself just wanting to cry without even really knowing why (and other times when I definitely knew why…). If you haven’t read this book yet, do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach (This can also serve as your summer TBR). I’m very much a mood reader so I find it hard to stick to a set TBR list, but these are all books I’m hoping to read soon.

36301023My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows). My Lady Jane was such a surprise hit for me and has become one of my favorite books and I have been looking forward to this one ever since reading it.36347470Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey. This is the last book in this series and I’m really excited for it.35924499Our House by Louise Candlish. I got approved for this on NetGalley, but I also won a physical copy from a Goodreads Giveaway and I’m really looking forward to it.36502041Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. Slaughter is one of my favorite authors and I’m sure I will enjoy this just as much as I have her other books. I’m over 100 people on the wait list for this at the library, though, so I don’t know if I’ll even get it this summer, but fingers crossed!36620943Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I FINALLY got approved for a Kristan Higgins book on NetGalley, but I still haven’t read this yet. I’m really looking forward to starting it soon, though.35410511Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’m a little concerned it’s been over-hyped for me, but I’m still looking forward to it. It sounds super creepy – in a fun way.37793086Girl’s Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I’ve never read anything by these authors and this one sounds really interesting. Plus, I love that cover!36461789A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is one of my favorite authors and I’m so excited for this one. I am also planning on seeing him when he’s in the area in July with my book buddy, Amanda!33413128Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman. I hear such amazing things about Backman, but I was never really sure of his books. However, Brandie from Running on Words and Wine recently read and loved this one and she let me borrow it, so I’m looking forward to finally giving him a try!36547961Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. I’ve seen some really great reviews on this one and I am next in line for it at the library!

What books are on your Summer TBR? Do we have any in common?

Books I’ll Probably Never Read Tag

I was tagged for this by Abbie over at  The Fuzzy Bookworm. Go check out her blog! Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like.

A hyped book you’re not going to read?

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I have seen nothing but absolutely glowing reviews on this book, but every time I think about trying it I read the synopsis again and I just don’t find it interesting. Never say never, but I don’t really see myself ever picking this up.

A series you won’t start/won’t be finishing?

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The Never Never series by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher. I read the first book because it was free and actually ended up liking it enough that at the time I wanted to read the rest of it. But since the subsequent books weren’t free and the third book STILL hasn’t showed up at my e-library, I pretty much decided I wouldn’t read the rest. I did see a lot of mixed reviews on the ending that kind of intrigued me so I finally asked a friend for spoilers on it. I can’t even remember what she said happened, but I do remember that I thought it was lame, so I have zero interest to ever finish this.

A classic you’re just not interested in?

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. There was a time in my life when I really wanted to read this, but now I basically know how the story goes and I think I would hate the characters so much that I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Any genres you’ve never read?

Velociraptors, Soufiane Idrassi on ArtStation at https://www.artstation.com/artwork/velociraptors

I heard once that Dinosaur Erotica is a thing? I’ve never read that.

A book on your shelves you’ll probably never actually read?

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Wool by Hugh Howey. I’ve heard good things about this and my sister absolutely loves it, but every time I try to start it I just can’t get into it.