Review Of The "Beartown" Novel Written By Fredrik Backman
Beartown is a hockey town. It is on the verge of being something great, of being put on the map of ice hockey when its residents are hit by a tidal wave of tragedy. The golden child is targeted, the town is split down the middle deciding which of the children to believe. In a town as small and as secluded as Beartown, being alone is a death sentence. Everybody wants to make the popular choice even if it means turning a blind eye to the truth that is staring them in the face.
It speaks of a story that we are all familiar with. Children who have adult responsibilities and expectations thrust upon them with no support and are left to fend for themselves in an adult world grow up to realize that they have missed on all sorts of childhood experiences and haven’t been able to educate themselves. They are bewildered to come out into the real world and take refuge in various addictions as we see with a frightening number of grown child actors. Similarly child prodigies who are made to grow up too quickly realize that they have not developed the tools required to survive in an adult world.
The blind loyalty that we see is common in sports teams. The players are coached as a team and the team takes prominence over individuals. Professional players who spend most of their waking hours with their team mates develop close, bordering on unhealthy, relationships with each other as we see in this story. It might be a necessity for the coaches to build a team that moves and thinks as one but when it is children. someone needs to take the responsibility of making sure that their moral compass is pointing due North.
In the beginning, I was unable to read more than a couple of chapters at a time because there was so much to take in. Each character in intricately created and the story progresses seamlessly to each character’s point of view. I loved how the narration did not lose its momentum with the translation. The story kept me on my toes all through the book.
It is a story of love, of sacrifice, of parents’ helplessness in not being able to protect their children from the evil in the world. It is a story of growing up too fast, of misplaced loyalty, of stardom, of growth, of children not being taught right from wrong, of parental expectations and panic that accompanies the inability to fulfill them.
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