One of my goals this year is to re-read some of my favorite books. Sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in new releases that I don’t make time for the favorites I’ve already read. So in January, I knew I wanted to re-read Beartown.
I received Beartown as a Christmas gift from my boyfriend, who had read (and loved) another Fredrik Backman novel, A Man Called Ove. I went in to this novel with zero expectations and I was shocked.
This is one of the handful of books that I can say has had a profound impact on my life. At random times I will find myself still thinking about the characters and there are passages of the prose that are still suck in my head.
This book was beautiful. It was hard. It broke my heart. It was dark. It was impactful. Beartown is worth it.
Before I get further into the review, I need to include a trigger warning. Like, a really huge trigger warning. Beartown involves the rape and sexual assault of a young female character. Yet, the previous sentence seriously understates the content of the novel. Beartown goes beyond the details of the violence itself and explores the impact of such an event on the victim, the families, the abuser, and the community itself. Beartown talks rape culture, homophobia, misogyny, and victim blaming. It allows the reader to see how this abuse can occur in a community – and what has allowed it to persist. You can view a more thorough synopsis here on Goodreads.
spoiler free review: I loved Beartown. Fredrik Backman has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve been blessed enough to encounter. (Seriously, though.) Backman writes in such a way that packs a punch. The prose is written in a delicate, but an impactful way. I felt like I could find a meaningful quote on almost every page. (I’ve included a few of my favorites below in the spoiler section.)
Overall, I truly can’t recommend this book enough. It get a full 5/5 from me.
Beartown is the first novel in Fredrik Backman’s Björnstad book series. It is a work of fiction and it was published in September 2016. It is followed by Us Against You, which was published in August 2017.
note: I wanted to include some resources here for anyone who may be dealing with a similar situation to the sensitive content seen in Beartown. Whether you want resources, support, or if you are looking for ways to support others – please consider some of the links below.
RAINN is a great resource for those in the United States. RAINN provides national resources for survivors and their loved ones. Their hotline number is 800-656-HOPE. RAINN also has international resources here for those who reside outside of the United States.
I reside in the United States, so I’m not as knowledgeable in resources for international folks. However, as I research further, I will add any resources here that may be of help to y’all.
You are never alone.
spoiler’s ahead: One of my favorite things about this novel is the way it allowed me to connect to a myriad of characters. Complexities could be seen in both the younger and more adult characters – which made the book feel so real. You could visualize these characters. You could see this town. It made it much more impactful. However, on the same coin, this was one of the only minor critiques that I have of the novel. There were a ton of characters in this book and sometimes it was hard to grapple with everyone’s point of view and the many arcs that came with each character. However, even if this slowed my reading pace down because I needed to pay closer attention to each character/each arc, it was still worth it. For a book that focuses so much on group think and the community, it made sense to get as many points of view as possible.
I also connected to Maya is such a profound way. The difficulties and judgement she faced were real and they hit home. Really, one of the most impactful moments of the novel is that many finally believed her – only because she was vouched for by a young man (Amat).
Above all, one of my favorite parts about the book was the prose. I’ve included some of my favorite quotes from the novel are below:
“She’s fifteen, above the age of consent, and he’s seventeen, but he’s still “the boy” in every conversation. She’s “the young woman.” Words are not small things.”
“It doesn’t take long to persuade each other to stop seeing a person as a person. And when enough people are quiet for long enough, a handful of voices can give the impression that everyone is screaming.”
All in all, I can’t recommend Beartown enough. Comment and let me know what you thought of Beartown or any of Fredrik Backman’s work.
This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. All links provided are for your convenience only – none are affiliate links.