Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from three teens who did just that, and get their different takes on the same book. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Reviewed by Jocelyn C.
Beartown is a novel that discusses extreme topics that aren’t usually talked about in books and also needs an extreme trigger warning! To start off the book, we see the small town of Beartown, Sweden preparing for and anticipating the semifinal hockey game. With the 17 year old hockey star Kevin Erdal, the junior hockey team might finally have a chance to win. This wing could lead to an economical boost for the entire town. Peter Anderson of Beartown, was a NHL star in Canada, but eventually returned back to his hometown with his wife Kira, and their kids Maya and Isak. The whole family suffered a tragic loss when their son Isak died from a childhood illness at a very young age. This definitely affected the family for the rest of their lives.
Sune, the A-team coach thought that something was missing on his hockey team. This is when he discovers Amata and recruits him. Amat faces many struggles. He is sort of an outcast, and when his friends find out that he is moving up, they aren’t too thrilled. Amat is bullied in the locker room, on the ice, and even outside of school and the rink. Amat, though, refuses to give up and plays in the semifinal. Maya has had a crush on Kevin for the longest time, but Amat has a crush on Maya. While Amat attempts to ask out Maya, Kevin rudely interrupts and invites Maya and her best friend Ana to his party. This is where things take a turn for the worse.
At Kevin’s home full of drunk teenagers and no parents, Kevin makes a bet with one of his friends that he will be able to sleep with the GM’s daughter. This does not go over well. While the two of them are extremely drunk, Kevin lures Maya up to his bedroom where he sexually assults her. With the encouragement of Ana, Maya tells her parents right before the hockey final, and Kevin is arrested just as they get on the bus to leave. No one knew what happened and they were all extremely confused. Everyone claims that she was lying, little do they know Amat walked in and saw the whole thing. After the hockey season is over, Sune starts an all girls hockey team to change the town’s sexist hockey culture. Everyone steps in to teach the young girls to play so they can become the next Beartown hockey stars. This novel is extremely well written and has an incredible message behind it.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Reviewed by Ella K.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman is a novel centered around a local hockey team from the small Swedish town of Beartown. The sport of hockey is incredibly important to the town and the entire social hierarchy revolves around the team. The star of the hockey team, Kevin, is the most popular guy in town. His rich parents have funded his obsession with hockey since he was young. The town, being extremely isolated, has a struggling economy. All hopes lie with the hockey team to win the championship in order to get a new school centered around hockey built within the town.
The entire town is rooting for Kevin and the team, but things change after a house party takes a turn for the worst and the lives of the entire town are uprooted. This book has great commentary on the harmful effects of locker room talk and prevalent issues in society. Loyalty versus morality is also an important theme that is discussed throughout the story. This book made me emotionally invested in the characters and I felt things for the characters when they went through the hardships that they did. Backman writes the characters extremely well and you cannot help but get caught up in the small world of Beartown.
Anyone who is even remotely interested in realistic fiction should pick up a copy of this book. Not only is its commentary on society important, but it is also a book filled with suspense and intrigue. Backman’s writing discusses the influences and inner workings of a small town that can be detrimental on the health of its children. All in all, the book is well written and well worth the read. It is important to understand the negative effects of the mob mentality and how the internet can be harmful to one’s mental health. All these things and more are prevalent issues in the small community of Beartown.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Reviewed by Juliana J.
Beartown was an absolutely jaw-dropping book to be able to read, and I would read it again in a heartbeat. Set in Beartown, Sweden, a has-been hockey town that wishes to revive itself, the book is written in third-person and jumps from multiple perspectives between characters in the novel. The book grapples with mature themes from the mindset of a teenage girl, as well as her parents, and some of her peers. The imagery used throughout made the book even more tantalizing, and I felt myself wanting to read the whole book in one sitting on many occasions. The subtle foreshadowing leaves you even more curious about how the novel will turn out, and what conclusion will be brought forth. Styles such as plays on words and usage of dramatic irony kept the novel interesting, and there wasn’t a dull moment for me as I read through the entire book.
There are many plot twists throughout the novel, but they were all executed well. The book had excellent examples of friendships displayed throughout, especially for the age group. They had moments of heartbreak in friendship– finding out your friend isn’t who they thought they were, feeling abandoned or hurt, as well as moments of peace and solidarity– standing by them when no one else would, and forgiving past mistakes. One of my favorite parts of the book was the use of repetition in subtle themes hinted at throughout the book. The novel also puts a great stress on the presence of ‘locker room talk’, which is a toxic mindset. Beartown helped to showcase some of the greatest damages of how locker room talk can affect young people and their adolescent years, even extending further into adulthood. It also brings to light important discussions such as how to handle adult-themed topics as a friend, a sister, a parent, or even a peer.