As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a part of a book club with my Daughters of the American Revolution chapter here in DC, and I love it because everyone is super smart and fun but also because we pick good books. In the past, we’ve read There, There, The Witches, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, et cetera. For April, we did Beartown by Frederik Backman for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so obviously, trigger warnings ahead.
I listened to this on audio, which was already hard to do now that I have ZERO commute, but I also struggle listening to topics of sexual assault on audio. Perhaps it’s because I skim a bit around it when I’m reading on the page for my own mental health, but there’s also just something horrifying about having it described into your ear. I felt the same way about Talking to Strangers’ chapters on Larry Nassar/Brock Turner/etc. Anyway, this book took me a little bit longer to read than I expected, but ultimately, it was a good book and I understand why my book club leader was so eager about it!
Beartown is a hockey town. That permeates throughout this entire book. But it’s more than a book about hockey–it’s a book about the players, the sponsors, the other kids in school, the family dynamic, the kids personal lives, etc. There are a LOT of characters in this book, and they all have their own narratives intertwined, not in separate POV chapters, but I didn’t find it too hard to follow. The town is on the brink of a big win in the hockey arena that may bring more success to their town in all, but when a girl is assaulted at a party, the entire town is going to find out where they stand on issues of believing women, supporting their kids, and frankly, most of their reactions really pissed me off, and you’ll probably be pissed off too, but maybe part of that is because it feels too realistic, ya know? Also THAT ENDING, so worth it, tbh.
Anyway, this book was tough at times. People suck sometimes, ya know? But I liked the narrative style a lot, I’ve heard great things about Backman but this is the first book I’ve read by him, and I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’ll read the sequel right away–and if I do, I’ll definitely get it in print instead of on audio, but the narrator for this was pretty good. It was just a little…tough to hear, especially when I don’t have a commute to listen on.