Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?
As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.
So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?
A huge thank you to Ariele Fredman, NetGalley and Atria Books for reaching out to me and offering this advanced reading copy! I am a huge fan of Fredrik Backman since I have read Beartown and I was over the moon to be able to read this story!
The downside is that the publishing house is asking not to quote parts of the book before checking with a finished copy. And yet I highlighted so many quotes while reading!
Backman is a magician with words and, I’ll say it again, the translator did an outstanding job!
I took my time reading it because I really wanted to savor the story.
Once again, Backman’s prose is efficient and as sharp as a knife. In just a few sentences, he makes you care for a character that will only have a half page in that story. You can feel that people fascinate Fredrik Backman and that he has a keen sense of observation of human nature. I’d call it a razor sharp prose. Terribly efficient and conveying tons of feeling and wisdom.
You will never be able to hate any character, even the villains, as Fredrik Backman will make you care for each of them in making you see through their eyes and heart.
I also knew right from the start that I would have my heart shredded to pieces. And I did. Oh I did! And I cried so hard!
What is The Winners about?
The Winners is once more a character driven story. It is the third book in the Beartown series.
As before, the community is a central theme of The Winners as well as family and friendship. They can be your stepping stone as well as drag you down. And we’ll also see that sometimes, a bad choice, one small decision, will have catastrophic consequences.
Taking place two years after Us Against You, the catalysts of the book will be a huge storm hitting Beartown and Hed but also someone who will be laid to rest. Both events will be the start of a chain reaction, giving us the famous Butterfly Effect that we had in Beartown and Us Against You.
Written in the third person, the story will follow many protagonists and I must say that all were captivating, the old ones and the new ones:
–Maya who is studying music will go back home for the funeral as well as Benji who had left town to wander to Asia and try to find happiness. How have they changed? Do they still feel like forest folk? Is Beartown still their home? Are they happy? Rape has not stopped for Maya, she still is living with it every day of her life.
-A couple from Hed, Hannah the midwife, Johnny the firefighter and their three children will become new very important characters in the Beartown saga. They are from Hed and as beloved and respected as their Beartown counterpart Peter and Kira. When the tensions between both towns are growing and everyone feels like sitting on a powder keg, will they help bring peace or pull the trigger?
–Kira and Peter’s marriage is at risk. Both are harboring so many unresolved feelings since what happened to Maya that it physically hurt seeing them drifting apart, living with the weight of silence upon their shoulder. What is a marriage really? Is love enough to salvage one?
–Ana. Savage, strong Ana. Running towards a fire and not from a fire. Always ready to protect her best friend Maya. Always there to care for her drunk of a father. Her courage will be tested and she will find her calling.
– Amat and Bobo will have their own questioning, their own choices to make that will decide their whole future.
Someone will arrive in town, set on unearthing secrets and having someone pay for it. That coupled with another character wanting to have his revenge against some of the hockey players will make for a rising tension throughout the book.
These folk love with passion and hate with as great a fervor. There is no half hearted feelings with these forest people. Prompt to hate and prompt to love. What is certain is that when you live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and glacial temperatures, your community is essential for your survival. Alone, you’ll never make it.
The Winners talks about corruption, about politics, about family, about friendship, first love, hockey.
Here again, the plot is not what’s important in the book. It’s the people. Their feelings. Their reactions. Their joy and their pain. Their secrets. Their love. Their hate. And above all else their resilience.
It talks about revenge. About forgiving sons for the sins they do and warning girls about the length of their skirt and their behavior. It’s about extreme acts committed when all your life you have suffered in silence, as an outcast, excluded of that community. It’s about lost kids and found friends. It’s about the fierce love of a mother and a father, the protective love of a wife but also the damage parental neglect can do to kids. It’s about courage and cowardice.
It’s about life in all its passion and imperfection.
And it’s just one of Fredrik Backman’s best works if not THE best work!
Now I want more. I want maybe Alyssa’s story? When she’ll be grown up? And will look back? Or Ana’s story? Or…? I simply don’t have enough of Beartown stories.
Thanks for reading!