Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2017)

Currently one of my favorite authors. He just seems to get people, especially those for whom life isn't easy. The main character in this book is Beartown - the whole town with it's love of hockey, it's hopes for a winning team, it's frustrations with loss of jobs, struggling families - even those that are well off are struggling with something. I have to admit that for a while things looked bleak, the need to win became so great, that people forgot the difference between right and wrong, but I knew Backman wouldn't leave it like that. He showed us such a wide range of characters, each with its own struggles, but in the end good won (mostly) over evil. (This right/wrong vs good/evil is Backman's concept, not mine, but I really liked it.)

When a book that begins with: "Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead, and pulled the trigger." you start imagining a myriad of ills, slights, offenses that teens might encounter. Throughout the book I kept trying to figure out who was going to shoot whom.

I knew he was a Scandinavian author, just didn't realize he was Swedish until I just looked it up. His story is so universal, that it could be in the U.S. One family moved to Canada for a while, but that could have been from the U.S. There was just one mention of Swedish nationals, and the a few mentions of krona. I had to look up how much 5,000 kr. was worth ($600) to figure out the extent of that one gift/bribe. Since I listened to the book and didn't see the names in print, my ears made them sound like familiar one. Only by looking at the text I realized they were mostly unfamiliar.

-Maya lives with her parents Peter Anderson, the general manager of Beartown Ice Hockey, and Kira, a lawyer and Leo, her little brother. 
-Ana is Maya's best friend and seems to sleep at Maya's way too much.
-Amat lives with his mom Fatima, who cleans at the rink. (I like the words she wrote down for her son, a variataion from Mother Theresa: "If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway. What you create, others can destroy, Create anyway. Because in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and anyone else anyway." And he had written: "They say Im to little to play. Become good player any way!" And he practices every morning before school to become one.
-Zach is Amat's best friend
-Kevin's parent built him a rink in the back yard when they couldn't find him one winter when he was little - because he was out on the lake practicing shots. His parents are well off but too busy to watch him play, though he is the star of the junior team.
-Benji is Kevin's best friend with some older sisters, one works as a bartender. 
-Bobo is a huge player on the junior team, who helps his father in the auto shop and his mom work in the hospital.
-Sune is the long time coach of the A-Team, though board members want him out.
-David is the coach of the junior team about to play the game of the decade and expecting to take Sune's place.
-Jeanette is a teacher having to deal with the energetic hockey players in her class.
-Ramona runs the local bar and is the town's psychologist. She hasn't stepped more than a few feet outside her bar since her husband died.

Anyway, you get the point. A town, even a small town, is made up of a lot of people, each with a role, job, relationships, problems, and when a whole town's future is threatened, it is interesting who comes through and does the right thing. Just realized this book fits into the recent #MeToo conversation.


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