I am a lover of all of Fredrik Backman’s novels – even though his books have very different topics and styles. I just finished The Winners, which is the final book in a trilogy about two small towns that love their hockey teams. But anyone interested in The Winners needs to start at the beginning – with Beartown. (Beartown has also been made into an HBO series.)
The people who live in the isolated communities of Hed and Beartown are hockey lovers. Hockey is the favorite subject of conversation and the favorite sport for most every family. Hockey is also so competitive between the two towns’ teams, that friendships, business deals and future dreams all seem to involve the hockey teams. It brings out the best in some characters, but brings out violence and hatred in others. But the characters are the heart of this novel – Ramona (the owner of the local bar), Peter (the hockey coach dad), Maya (his daughter), Kevin (the star player) and more. The people of Hed and Beartown love ‘winners’ and will go to extreme measures to make sure their ‘winners’ can keep on track…even when it is morally wrong.
Beartown is a wonderful, but heavy novel. (There is rape, death and violence in the story.) But Backman writes about the subjects with so much insight – his characters are so fully developed and so so real. I cared about the characters in this novel, and I could not wait to see how their lives moved on in Us Against You and finally in The Winners. I don’t watch or know much about hockey, but I loved reading about the heartbreaking stories of the people who live in Hed and Beartown!