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Review: Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Title: Us Against You
Author: Fredrik Backman
Year published: 2018
Category: Adult fiction 
Pages: 435 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)Sweden

SummaryA small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don't expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they've always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it's a cruel blow when they hear that their town&;s ice hockey club might soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. But the arrival of a newcomer gives Beartown hockey a chance at a comeback.

Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you&;ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a huge challenge, especially as the town&;s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute as the big game approaches.

By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.

Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.

Review: I very much enjoyed Bear Town (read my review here) so have been meaning to read this book for years. I am so glad that I finally got around to it even though I didn't like it as much as Bear Town. This is my first book of 2023.

I still like the town, the feeling of the novel, the characters (though many are difficult to "like"), and the concepts. Backman is good at referencing the events from Bear Town so that the reader is reminded of what happened and also to show the lasting effects of violence, rape, and a town that cannot forget.

What Backman does really well is life in this town. I can see the area, the people, and, most importantly, feel the intensity and tensions. This novel shows the longer lasting effects of the violence in the first book, the repercussions on not just the survivor and perpetrator, but their family, their friends, and the town as a whole. Throw in the passion for a sport and you've got a perfect storm.

What didn't totally work for me in this second novel in the series is the pace. It was just a bit too slow for me. The last quarter of the book was much better for me than the first quarter though so it ended with a positive feeling for me. In fact, I found the last part quite emotional and impressive.

Have you read these novels? In particular, have you read The Winners, novel 3 in the series. What did you think?

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Alphabet (title)--U
  • Alphabet (author)--B
  • Literary Escapes--Sweden
  • Popsugar--book I meant to read in 2022 and about sports

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