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Date finished: January 24, 2018

Rating: ★★★★

Beartown, Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith

Beartown is a large departure from Backman’s other books. While it starts out similarly to Britt-Marie Was Here (but in a hockey town instead of a soccer town), Beartown quickly takes a heartrending turn when the hockey team’s general manager’s daughter is raped by the team’s star player.

Maya is an exemplary character, and through her and her family Backman examines the implications of scandal in a town where children who are great hockey players are put on a pedestal that allows them to do just about anything without consequence. While the weight of the town’s economic future rests on the hockey’s team ability to win, Maya is threatened, alienated, and treated in awful ways in order for the townspeople to feel better about failing to persecute its 17-year-old hero.

I really appreciated Backman’s exploration of sexism through both major and minor characters, and Beartown‘s ending — which highlights girls’ and women’s abilities to achieve just as highly as men (even in sports) — is something we need to see more of these days.

Incredibly well done.

Photo courtesy @tales.of.a.bookbound.mom (Instagram)

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