I know - the two "versions" of this book.
I've seen this one all over Goodreads for ages.
And then this appeared in my local bookstore.
Now I know that authors release books under different names, use different cover designs, and it's the same story - I've been caught before - deep into chapter 2, thinking "Hang on, I've read this before".
But these two versions have to be the most different I've ever seen. The feel, the look, emotions stirred up are just completely different.
So I read the local version, and this is how it went.
Deep in a forest in Sweden, there's a Beartown. It's a tiny community. If you blink you'll miss it, and if you ask around, everyone will tell you the town is finished, has-been. over. But.
They have an ice rink.
And the people in Beartown believe in their junior ice hockey team. They have a shot at winning the nationals. They can do this, these young teenage dreams. They can take Beartown from obscurity and make it prosper again. But. They're boys, so something happens. The Scandal.
"It's only a game. It only resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That's all."
Fredrik Backman wrote A man called Ove - which I loved. And although grumpy men feature here too, there is nothing else similar to the writing in that and this one. They're in two different worlds, both beautifully constructed by the author. What's so very clever about this book is all the different issues, emotions, personalities, confined to the small space, that reflect all the pain and questions in a much bigger place, and prove that humanity is the same the world over. We confront similar issues, make mistakes that echo thorough generations and face failure and triumph with despair and hope.
“The only thing the sport gives us are moments. But what the hell is life, Peter, apart from moments?”
“One of the plainest truths about both towns and individuals is that they usually don't turn into what we tell them to be, but what they are told they are.”
I loved this book. The writing, the world, the plot, the people, even the ice hockey. It will always be Beartown in my heart, and I'm sure I'll return someday.