Book Review: Beartown

A short recap of my history with Fredrik Backman.  I’ve read two of his books — A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry — and loved them both!  That’s it.  That’s my history.  Told you it was short 🙂

I saw Beartown on a list of the best books of 2017 and was on board right away.  That being said, this book was a bit different for Backman.  There’s no curmudgeon!  Unless you count the town barkeep, but as she’s one of like 30 “main” characters, she doesn’t get a ton of airtime.

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Basically, this book is about a small town that eats, sleeps and breathes hockey and an incident involving the star player, Kevin, and the General Manager’s daughter, Maya.  What happens challenges everyone to question their own loyalties and morals.  It breaks the town but then remakes it.

The entire time I read it, something felt off but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I tried to explain it out loud to Joey.  Backman jumps back and forth between characters SO MUCH.  Every paragraph revolves around a different character.  In the beginning, I figured we were just meeting everyone, but it went on like that for the rest of the book.  There’s also SO MANY stories from the characters’ pasts (before the book takes place) included.  Again, in the beginning, this was fine but it continued on throughout the book, to the point where you spend more time hearing about things that happened in the past than you spend with the characters in the present action of the book.  It was wholly strange and it gave me an unending feeling that I didn’t really know the characters at all.

That being said, what you will get, and what I’ve come to love about Fredrik Backman’s novels, is a great deal of heart.  There are certainly many characters who are bad people with bad morals but there are just as many characters who know right from wrong, who show fierce loyalty and unfaltering compassion towards those they love and honestly, that’s enough to keep me reading.

Have you read Beartown (or anything by Fredrik Backman)?

What are you reading right now?

Recent Reads

My new thing is carrying a book around with me — to the couch, to the hammock, to bed — then playing on my phone instead.  It still counts as reading, if you have a book near you, right??  The writing just enters your brain via osmosis, I think.  Okay, but in all seriousness, I have still been a lunch break/before bed reading machine and I finished these two books recently and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

As always, SPOILER WARNING!

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The Unseen World by Liz Moore

A lot of times, I think I have my mind made up on a book and then I go to book club, hear so many good points made by the other ladies in the group and re-think my whole opinion.  That was the case with this book.  I originally rated it four stars but after discussing it, I came to the very real conclusion that it had way too much going on plot-wise.  I went home and tried to give Joey a quick synopsis and 10 minutes later, I was DEAD SURE this book had too much going on.

It’s about a young girl (Ada) and her single father (David) who, very bright himself, raises her to value intelligence over everything.  He home-schools her and every day she works alongside him and his team in the computer science lab he runs, until Ada discovers her father has Alzheimer’s.  Suddenly, all sorts of questions about David’s past (that he cannot answer) come up and it turns out his name and all the stories he’s told Ada about his life before she was born were a cover up.  Factor in a secondary plot line about a virtual reality program, a love story and jumping back and forth between time periods and you have the makings of a unnecessarily complicated story.  Just writing that paragraph was stressful!

If this book had just been about a socially inept single father raising a daughter who had to navigate the real world once her father developed Alzheimer’s, I would have liked it so much better.  That being said, the relationship between Ada and David was really beautiful, the character development was well done and the writing was enjoyable so it really wasn’t a pain to get through this one.

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The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan

One of my Read Harder Challenge tasks was to read a collection of stories by a woman and this one was only a few dollars on Amazon so I went with it and ended up LOVING it!  They’re all short stories so I could get lost in one over lunch and WHOA, did I love that.  I just kept thinking “why don’t I read more short stories?!”  The format is so approachable and I’d end up blown away by the plot/emotion that could come through in just a few pages of writing.

They’re, as the title suggests, somewhat like a fairytale, but also jarring and heartbreaking and delightful and never what you expect.  I didn’t love every single story, but I can genuinely say they were all interesting and some of them I straight adored.  Favorites were “The Rental Heart,” “Underskirts,” “The Broken West,” “Coin-Operated Boys,” “The Gracekeeper” and “The Light Eater.”

What are you reading right now?

Have you ever read a collection of short stories?  I’d love another recommendation!