In Beartown, a small community isolated in the cold woods, hockey means everything. Hockey is who they are, and the whole country will know that once their star junior teams makes it to the finals. However, the star player is accused of raping a young girl. Everyone in the town is effected, and it's how they handle it that determines the town's fate.
4.5/5: Read this book. It's VERY character based, and slow-burn, but... Backman's writing makes it worth it. Every person effected in the town gets a narrative, and the way their morals (or lack of morals) are presented is so intriguing. All the characters are well developed in a simple yet complex way. The book is about ~400 pages, but it was so immersive that I didn't mind.
I love all the characters, but by far my favorite is Benji. I would read a whole novel based off Benji. He's reckless and carefree, but he has a deep and raw love for the things that really matter in his life. That's a dangerous combination for anyone, but... dammit I fell for it. I also have a special place for Amat and Maya. Both characters went through a lot of growth, and overcame a lot of difficulties in their lives. But they pulled through and stood up for themselves while protecting their loved ones, even if they were rejected by others. All the characters are really well written, and I appreciate how they all stayed true to their character while doing brave things. It's easy for a character to do something different for the sake of the plot, which makes it feel like they broke character. But every character had a logical reasoning to their beliefs and actions (a great example is Kevin's dad, or David, or Amat, etc). The only thing that seemed out of place was when characters would start saying some deep-philosophical thought; for some scenes, it felt out of character. But anyway, the ending. The climax had me SHOOK, I was so scared. But I'm happy with the ending. It seems perfect for a stand alone, but I still want to read the novel. Also, there are a lot of quotable passages in this book. Many sentences either made me stop and think or lingered with me for the rest of the day. The story dragged occasionally, and it's VERY slow burn, but I liked it.
What I Take Away: Life is lived in moments. What we do now impacts tomorrow and everyone around us. Also, strength comes from being able to stand tall when faced with fear. A strong person isn't necessarily the most popular person, rather, it's usually the opposite. It's the person who's willing to go against the crowd and stand up for themselves that's the strongest.