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Beartown Audiobook

Beartown

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Publisher's Summary

The number-one New York Times best-selling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream - and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semifinals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made, and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

©2017 Fredrik Backman (P)2017 S&S Audio

What the Critics Say

"Beartown is, at its heart, a hockey story. However, with author Backman telling that story and Marin Ireland performing it, this audiobook transcends the cliché of 'the big game' and becomes a multifaceted study of humanity, integrity, and loyalty. Ireland narrates in a remarkably adaptable way; her chameleon voice is devoted to developing character, and she's so effective that she makes the story come to the fore... Ireland nimbly skates her own way through a novel that is gorgeously written, meticulously plotted, and nearly perfectly performed. This one is not to be missed." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-28-17
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-28-17 Member Since 2017
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    "A Barrel To The Head, A Slug To The Gut--"

    This is the story of one young person putting the barrel of a shotgun to the head of another young person. It's the story of how big dreams die hard and little, more tender dreams die even harder. This is not your usual Fredrik Backman book; it has none of the fanciful tenderness, the sentimentality. It's a hard-hitting look at what a town, what its people, what its children will do when the worst happens and you realize you are alone, just you and your ability to look your children in the face saying, "I couldn't protect you", you and your ability to look in the mirror saying, "What does it mean to be human?"
    I expected more of a "Miracle on Ice" component but I was sorely wrong and quite happy about it. Backman takes the love of parents, friends, siblings and piles it on; takes the tension and ratchets it up, notch by painful notch until you have nothing to do but look inside yourself and wonder if you can stand any more pain, any more human frailty, any more doubt when there are so many, many shades of gray.
    Marin Ireland has a brittle tone, and I wondered why a male narrator wasn't gotten until I realized that the many female characters wouldn't have been done justice to. Ireland gets it right, plus she does male characters quite well. What's more: She doesn't stilt on the passion, and this is a passionate story.
    If you're ready for a journey into the heart, mind, soul of a teenager get ready and dive in. If you're ready for a slap in the face, the realization that you'll do anything, anything for your children but be able to keep them safe, tip your toes in and go gently, inhaling as much as possible.
    Backman's prose, his story, his style are breathtaking.

    58 of 65 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Wolfe 05-19-17
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    "I wanted to love it...."

    I love all of Fredrick Backman's previous books but this one seriousy missed the mark for me. I finished it purely out of loyalty to the author but struggled to do so. The story was sliced up and told in a jumbled mess and in weird summaries, almost like a string of short stories shuffled into one. Definitely no where near Ove.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee Garza 06-12-17
    Dee Garza 06-12-17
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    "Miserable"

    That's how I feel after enduring this book. I have read three other titles by this author and loved them. This book was very different. Oh yes, the writing was excellent, of course, but the story was painful all the way through.

    From the very beginning the reader is set up for a terrible incident to occur. I felt nervous in anticipation. This is not a fun read. It is no fun to wait for something awful to happen. It was bad enough to feel that from the time the story begins, but as the characters are developed and the reader's fondness of them grows, it becomes worse and worse.

    I wish I had not read this. I wish I had not put myself through this. I wish I had stopped early on when the story began and I did not feel interested, but continued because I was curious.

    This may turn out to be an important book. This may become a movie. This may be studied in sociology or psychology or philosophy classes. But it had me nervous all the way through, and, even with its excellent writing, I wish I had not forced myself to endure it. The way it ended left me without the details I felt I deserved after all that.

    I'll remember this story, these characters and their culture. It will, without a doubt, linger for a time. But I wish I had not gone down this path at all. Now I just feel miserable.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-19-17 Member Since 2008
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    "Skated backwards"

    After reading A Man Called Ove I was really looking forward to this book. If not for the language, it would seem like this is the first juvenile fiction book of a new author. The reader didn't work for me either.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Mo 04-27-17
    Holly Mo 04-27-17
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    "Backman Can Write Any Point of View!"

    I've read most of Backman's books, and this author is amazingly talented. When I read "A Man Called Ove," I thought, this guy must know my daughters and their grandfathers, because the characters' interactions are spot on. When I read, "Britt-Marie Was Here," I thought, he must know an older woman who felt discarded, because she seems so real. In "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," I assumed he must have lived in an apartment building where his neighbors represented, all walks of life, because each character was alive and unique. Now, in "Beartown," I jokingly conclude that he is in fact a pseudonym for what must be a team of authors, each specializing in writing a certain point of view, because his representation of the human teenager was very accurate.

    "Beartown" is about so many things: parenthood, navigating being a teen, the desperation that can engulf a small town into pack mentality. It touches on retirement and how it effects a sense of purpose. We see immeasurable loss, beating the odds, perseverance, abuse, revenge, forgiveness...and so much more.

    From the above paragraph, you may think those are too many subjects to tackle in one book, but Backman makes it flow naturally and realistically.

    At times, I felt that he was bordering on over description in regards to each character's inner thoughts, but as I read on, I came to appreciate the time he took to bring the reader into the characters' heads. Some may feel that the following is a spoiler, but I want to explain what I mean with an example, therefore, I'll preface the next section.

    *Possibly could be considered a spoiler*

    At one point, some boys throw a rock with an expletive written on it through a window. The mother/wife gets in her car and scares the boys in a way that could be perceived as unstable. But the reader has been inside her head. We've seen what she's been through. She's endured unimaginable loss. Outwardly, she seems abrasive and uncompromising, but the reader knows how much she has sacrificed for those she loves. You feel her desperation and helplessness and anger. Despite knowing how wrong it would have been, had she actually caused permanent damage, I found myself cheering her on; then, when she came to her senses, so did I. She wasn't insane; she had a temporary moment of insanity. Backman took a lot of time to get us inside her mind, and it allows the reader to understand her irrational behavior.

    *End of possible spoiler*

    What I like best about the book is the multiple layers given to each character. We see tough guys in moments of sensitivity. We see sensitive guys finding their strengths. It is easy to dismiss a character as universally shallow, until we see the character in a different environment and we watch them bloom into someone we'd like to know. Heroes make selfish/life altering choices and bullies evolve into better people.

    I especially like the ending, because it felt so complete that I actually exhaled. This is a great book for discussion, and I'm encouraging my teen daughters to read it. The narrator's performance was spectacular in the audio version. I highly recommend it!

    19 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy 06-09-17
    Joy 06-09-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Dark"
    What disappointed you about Beartown?

    A dark, slow moving story, so unlike his previous books.


    Has Beartown turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Possibly


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Her narration was emotionless, somewhat condescending. Her voice grated on me after a while. Had to stop listening to this book twice. I'm about halfway through and I'm not sure I will go back to it at all.


    What character would you cut from Beartown?

    Too many peripheral characters. I would cut a few of the hockey players who are not central to the story.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm very disappointed, having thoroughly enjoyed Backman's previous books.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 04-27-17
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 04-27-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Bang . . . Bang . . . Bang"

    Bang – the impact of pucks and players slamming into the boards. Bang - the collision of opposing visions for a town and its beloved hockey team. Bang – conflicting emotions of children trying to fit in with the group while remaining distinctly individual. Bang – the devastating realization that parents just cannot protect their children from forces they can neither foresee nor control. Bang – Running headlong into the desperation and hypocrisy that has formed the character of an entire community, and how it must come to grips with their values when their world explodes because of one senseless act. Bang - the sound of guns in the forest.

    A bright unforgiving light is turned on the worship of sports heroes, what it does to the young athletes, what it does to a community that places inhuman burdens on young shoulders to succeed for the glory of the town, and how those who don’t drink the kool-aid are marginalized, even dehumanized. This is a more sobering story than his previous novels, having little of the usual quirky humor to lighten the tone. The opening lines hit hard, setting an expectation of coming trouble, but then eases into a leisurely introduction to a vast cast of characters who will drive the story forward. The sentinel event doesn’t occur until half way through the book, so patience is required in spite of the building tension. Pay attention to the details of who these people are. It informs their reactions and behavior later on. But don’t cling to your early judgements. Once again Fredrik Backman has proved to have an astounding insight into human nature. His characters are realistically complex and he handles all of them – even the worst of them – with honesty and compassion. There are no easy answers when survival is on the line, and especially when parents are fighting for their children. This is not a depressing tale, but an enlightening one and one with the potential to spark conversation and self assessment.

    The reading by Marin Ireland is perfect for all ages, genders and character. Another home run for this author.

    22 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DobieChuck Colorado 04-27-17
    DobieChuck Colorado 04-27-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Captivating"

    A superbly wrought small town portrait complete w/ requisite dichotomies and truths... The novel starts w/ a bang, literally... The story grabs you, then takes you on a stroll through village life/lives on the edge... It's not a fast moving book, rather it's like typical small town life, leisurely and thoughtful... Lightness balanced against subtle and insinuating darkness, The marginalized vs glorified, team and town, things hidden/revealed, etc... The peer pressure is real and frightening, for both kids and adults... Betrayals actual and perceived... Some powerful and emotional subject matter that is both uncomfortable and provocative, yet simultaneously uplifting and restorative... The setting is believable, and the tone sucks you in w/o your realizing it until you're in deep... It shows us our shortcomings, specifically pride, and isn't bashful about shining the spotlight down... It's also a story of friendship, and what that really means... Love, and agree, w/ the concept of our best friends being those we meet when we're 15... Rich and multi-dimensional characters... You'll love many, hate a few, and flip back and forth on some as the plot thickens... The last third of the book is full of choke up happenings, and admittedly points where the room gets a bit dusty;). This book is right up there w/ A Man Called Ove, and that's one of my all time faves of mainstream fiction... If you can't like this story I'd go on a scavenger hunt for a heart and soul;).

    16 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 08-27-17
    Lori 08-27-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Backman is always a good bet"

    I never would have read this but that it was Fredrik Backman. I have loved his other books, and since I was reassured that it wasn't really much of a sports books by other reviewers, I thought, "okay!" Well, it really IS a book about sports, hockey in particular. But it gives us the human side of it. It helps those of us who have zero interest in competitive sports some understanding of why it is that some people are so crazy obsessed with it. It gets us in to the heads of the characters: the players, the spectators, the friends, the parents, the coaches, etc., and it shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. And it's Fredrik Backman, so it's packed with wisdom. Narrator was perfect!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Martin 05-19-17 Member Since 2017
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    "good and not so good"

    characters were interesting, the plot held my attention but the whole thing could have been told more effectively without the ponderous wisdom that the author imposed on the story. it violates the first rule of fiction: show don't tell. he does both.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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