Beartown by Frederik Backman is a new release by an author I have recently come to admire and follow. Although his new novel takes on the serious topic of an isolated small town whose identity centers on their boys hockey team, I appreciated it all the more because it made apparent the versatility of the author.
In this novel, Beckman provides insight into the psychology of groupthink. As the story begins, an unidentified person with a shotgun is about to shoot someone. If that doesn’t grab your attention the rest of the story most certainly will.
There are many well-defined characters in the story, both young and old, and Backman does a phenomenal job in conveying their essence to the reader.
Beartown takes their hockey seriously. The star high school players are allowed to live by a different set of rules. When one of the star players breaks a rule of decency and law, the town rises to his defense without questioning whether he is guilty or innocent. After all, he has been placed on a pedestal based solely on his ability to score hockey goals.
Much of this story hit me right in the gut. I have witnessed this behavior on a personal level in my life and it’s never pretty. I believe all of us have at some point in time seen injustice and the damage groupthink can cause. The question we need to ask ourselves is which side of the fence would we stand on in similar circumstances?
This novel is definitely not lighthearted. It’s message however, is an important one. I highly recommended it.