June 15, 2018
So much more than hockey…
Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey
***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first). After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.
Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.
Amazon Early Rating (June): 4.6 Stars
A dedicated Backman fan, I’ve read all of his work. As a fan and reader, I appreciate his thought-provoking writing, his courage to take a creative risk, and his commitment to writing about important and difficult topics. I think he’s an exciting and provocative author worth reading even though your appreciation of his individual works may vary. He’s on my list of respected writers from whom I’ll automatically preorder a new work without considering reviews.
Us Against You is an emotional read and filled with pain and sadness. Backman’s writing ability, thought filled observations, and unique style moved me forward. The hope readers find in the story comes through individual determination and courage and in the community standing together to support, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and heal.
A professional reviewer (Green Valley News) refers to Backman as “the Charles Dickens of our age.” You might know that Dickens is a great English writer and social critic, and this comparison is an important consideration when reviewing Backman’s work. When looked at solely from this perspective, I would award Us Against You 5 stars.
When considering Beartown and Us Against You, I notice they have slightly different tones and Us Against You is more focused on social issues (similar to Dickens). Overall, Beartown is my favorite. The difference for me in the two stories is that in Beartown I felt immersed in the story and bonded with the characters as if I were a community member. Whereas in Us Against You, I felt like an observer. It seemed like Backman was asking me to analyze and form an opinion rather than participate in the story. Instead of the story capturing me and allowing me to draw my own conclusions, I was aware of Backman’s analysis of social issues. In place of investing in the story alongside the characters, I spent time pondering Backman’s statements and wondering to what extent I agreed or not. Like Dickens, his story is focused on social issues, and his points are important, thought-provoking, and promote engagement. Although my preference is for more story telling, Backman is a gifted writer and the story is filled with quotable passages such as these (I could have filled a journal):
“People always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”
“No one bows their heads around here, for the simple reason that many of our worst deeds are the result of never wanting to admit that we’re wrong. The greater the mistake and the worse the consequences, the more pride we stand to lose if we back down.”
“You become someone else’s property the first time you hear your child cry. You belong to that little person now. Before everything else. So when something happens to your child, it never stops being your fault.”
“A long marriage consists of such small things that when they get lost we don’t even know where to start looking for them….In the end the weight of carrying each other’s broken hearts becomes unbearable.”
Recommended for readers who have read Beartown and wouldn’t mind something grittier, darker, and sadder; for those who love sports and competition; for readers who like issue-centered books; and for readers who appreciate thoughtful, excellent, and creative writing. If you have more questions after reading my review, please consider reading additional reviews before making your reading choice.
Trigger Warnings for locker room talk, homophobia, fighting and conflict, and references to suicide and rape.
My Rating: 4 Hockey Stars
Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. He has also written BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE in addition to the BEARTOWN books and a few novellas. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk or @backmansports.
Are you a Fredrik Backman fan?
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More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids
I’ll be reading and reviewing “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Mukata from my Summer TBR. By the way, I’m updating my Summer TBR with star ratings as I read titles (if you want to check my progress from time to time).
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