6 bear stars
I apologize as this book was so wonderful that I’ll leave once more a quite long review.
For those who are in a hurry: in a nutshell
Frederik Backman wrote a gorgeous story revolving around ordinary human beings led by their dreams only to see them crumble and leave them in a state of despair. With an acute writing he weaves a tale of friendships, fights to survive, to thrive in a hostile environment. Humanity at its best and lowest. He swept me off my feet and made me walk for two days in the shoes of these extraordinarily ordinary but exceptional characters.
A must read.
Now if you want details:
As it’s Thanksgiving for my US friends let’s begin with my thanks to:
-Suanne Laqueur. She raved about this book and convinced me to buy it.
-Frederik Backman. He is the one who worked long hours to produce this little gem allowing me to enjoy one my best 2017 reading experiences.
-Neil Smith. Who you say? The translator! Honestly I usually hate reading a translated book. Some finesse are usually lost an diminish my reading experience. Neil Smith did an exceptional job translating Frederik Backman sharp, intelligent and sensitive writing. Trust me with all the quotes I highlighted that man did a stellar job. Atria book keep that man!
This is a book about hockey or rather about a dying small town and its proud inhabitants in deep need of hope and light. Hockey is the catalyst of everything but is not accountable for what happened. As Ramona said it’s men who are behind the guns. They should take responsibilities for their actions.
In concise, nude but terrifyingly efficient sentences Frederick Backman immerse the reader in different characters lives.
We follow Kevin seventeen years old local hockey rising star. Wealthy but ignored by absent parents who are only interested in seeing him win. Nothing less is tolerated.
Bulky handsome haunted and free Benji. He is Kevin’s best friends since childhood. With his single struggling mom and three older crazy sisters he has always protected Kevin. On the rink he will assault physically any opponent and any threat to Kevin.
Kevin and Benji will form an unbreakable friendship.
“Only best friends know that sort of thing about each other. Only two boys who once lay side by side under the covers, reading comics by flashlight and realizing that the reason they always felt like outsiders was because they were superheroes.”
Bobo. Big Bobo but not good enough on the ice to make it to the A Team next year. Professional bully he is one of the characters insignificant in the beginning but that will have the greatest development. I despised him in the beginning and wanted to hug him by the end. If he can’t play hockey next year what will Bobo do?
Amat. Refugee, poor, mocked, lithe but incredibly quick and nimble on the Ice. Amat is fifteen and the boy every mother wishes for. He is used to being in the shadow and collecting rubbish to help his mom suffering of a poor back. Hard working he is deeply in love with Maya.
“He was tired, that’s all he can remember. (…)Tired of trying to prove ha was more than the things they called him: a zero from the Hollow. The cleaner’s son. Too small. Too weak”
Maya is fifteen years old with dreams of being a music star someday. Inseparable from Ana who is a child of nature. Once again Ana was the BF I want for my own daughter. Another exceptional story of friendship.
Peter Maya’s father. Raised in Beartown by an abusive father. Saved by Sune the old hockey coach. Hockey swallows you all. It’s asking to give everything you’ve got. Peter was exceptional. Hockey saved him from his horrible childhood. He made it big in Canada. Now he is back in town with his family.
Kira. Kira the mom with wolf blood. The one who would tear apart and hunt anyone hurting her kids. I am Kira. And I bet you are Kira too.
Pete and Kira embodies the hardship of being parents. The animalistic need to protect our children all along knowing we can’t.
Many other characters populate the book. Never too much. None unnecessary fillers but all essential keys to the plot.
I won’t detail the plot just tell you this is a story about human nature.
About friendships forged unexpectedly sometimes.
“They’re fifteen and seventeen years old, and in ten years’ time they’ll remember this evening when all the others were inside having a party, and they stood out here and became friends.”
About being parents and always feeling lacking.
“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.”
About people with all their dreams and hopes. With their hidden darkness and buried secrets. About ordinary men and women. About making the right choices. Do you choose to survive and earn lots of money or do you choose to stay poor but look proudly at your reflection each morning?
This book was just superb. Written in such fashion as to keep me under the weight of desperate but proud Beartown all along. All these destinies we follow separately will collide and leave a town in turmoil and some of its inhabitants behaving like animals.
I’m going to push the book on my family and friends asap.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
Thanks for reading!