Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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Published by Atria

Description:
The #1 New York Times bestselling 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 semi-finals, 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 semi-final 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.

If you’ve followed my blog for long you know I have loved all of Fredrik Backman’s books, beginning with A Man Called Ove. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was a little slow with a strange make believe between two of the main characters and I almost gave up on it. Let me tell you, NEVER give up on a Backman book! Always, always by the time you finish it’s wonderful and the story stays with you. No one writes characters quite like him. Beartown is another wonderful story. Hockey is a huge part of the story, I’m not into hockey so at first it was a little slow for me. But, I know a treasure is coming, so I keep reading. I have to say, several days after I finished the book it seems even sweeter. Does that ever happen to you?

A story about moral failure, the dangers of crowd mentality, and coming of age, but mostly about the fragility of human nature . Set in Sweden, the incredible imagery puts you there in this small Swedish town in love with hockey. I loved it!

Here are a few quotes I love from the book 

“When Amat was born, she lay with him on her chest in a narrow bed in a little hospital on the other side of the planet, no one but them in the whole world. A nurse had whispered the prayer in his mother’s ear back then – it is said to have been written on the wall above Mother Teresa’s bed – and the nurse hoped it would give the solitary woman strength and hope. Almost sixteen years later, the scrap of paper is still hanging on her son’s wall, the words mixed up, but she wrote them down as well as she could remember them:

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.

The final lines his mother wrote on the sheet of paper on his wall read as follows: 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.

Immediately below that, written in red crayon in the determined handwriting of a  primary school student, it says: They say I’m to little to play. Become good player any way!

Another one: “David is at home, lying on his kitchen floor. He’s thirty-two years old and his red hair is so unruly it looks like it’s trying to escape from his head. He got teased about it when he was little; the other kids pretended to burn themselves on him in class. That was where he learned to fight. He didn’t have any friends, which was why he was able to devote all his time to hockey. He never bothered to acquire any other interests, which is how he’s managed to become the best.

I love the description of David’s hair!

Robbie Holt  –  “While he was growing up everyone kept telling him he was going to turn professional, and he believed them so intensely that when he didn’t make it, he took it to mean that everyone else had let him down, as if somehow it wasn’t his own fault. He wakes up in the mornings with the feeling that someone has stolen a better life from him, an unbearable phantom pain between what he should have been and what he actually became. Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.

And mother Kira and daughter Maya… Teenage years offer a brief period of equality after childhood, before the balance shifts and Kira become old enough to worry about her parents more than they do about her. soon Maya won’t be Kira’s little girl anymore, and then Kira will be come Maya’s little old mom. It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.

Read a little about Fredrik Backman HERE.

Excellent read! Thanks to Atria and Netgalley for letting me read an advance copy of this wonderful book! Its publication date is April 25th. You can purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

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A Sweet Novella

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and LongerAnd Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very touching novella about losing a loved one to dementia. Having gone through that with my mom it was a little hard for me to read. But as always, Mr. Backman left you with a wonderful uplifting feeling. A beautiful story of love and loss.

This gem is available for purchase Tuesday, November 1, 2016.  Thanks to Atria Books for surprising me with a copy to preview. Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors. Looking forward to his next novel, Beartown, coming out next spring!

Peggy Ann

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Publisher: Atria Books
Hardcover: 336

ISBN: 9781501142536

Description

Another wonderful tale from Fredrik Backman! Britt-Marie was a minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and got front and center in this book. She is a wonderful character! Backman’s characters are quite quirky, but he nails human nature on the head.

The only thing I didn’t care for in this book was Mr. Backman had to make the seemingly obligatory nod to homosexuality/bisexuality. I’m really tired of that. It was only briefly mentioned and not explored in the character at all or any kind of an integral part of the story. It showed up for what it is ‘political correctness’ or whatever you call it. Disappointed at that.

A Backman book is like receiving a gift, a real gem. If you haven’t read one yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

You can purchase this book…
Simon & Schuster  (Official Publishers Website)
Amazon US

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion!
Peggy Ann

Coming Soon…

I am so looking forward to this! I adored the first two Backman books. Britt-Marie is a character from My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.  May 2016, mark your calendars.


Description
From the bestselling author of the “charming debut” (People) A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.

Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?

Zany and full-of-heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances, and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman


“Granny’s been telling these fairy tales for as long as Elsa can remember. In the beginning, they were only to make Elsa go to sleep, and to get her to practice Granny’s secret language, and a little because Granny is just about as nutty as a granny should be. But lately the stories have another dimension as well. Something Elsa can’t quite put her finger on.” A story about life and death and one of the most important human rights, the right to be different.

Just like his first book A Man Called Ove this is a gem! At first I was having a hard time because of the fantasy/fairy tales that took up so much of the story. I don’t like that genre. But Granny is a story teller and as the book progressed I could see where this make believe land was an integral part of the larger picture and was laying the foundation. I never know how much to tell about the story, as I don’t want to spoil it unfolding for you as you read. I wish now I had paid more attention to the tales as I read the first half of this book! I really should go back and read it over. If you love fantasy and make-believe kingdoms then you’ll REALLY love this heartwarming tale told through the eyes of almost eight year old Elsa.

Fredrik Backman knows how to write characters. He pegs human nature to a tee and finds redeeming qualities in even the ‘horrible’ characters. He has a gift for taking a group of misfits and turning them into a family full of love. I hope he never gives up writing!

Elsa is just full of wisdom for her age. And Granny for all her oddity! I’m just going to share some quotes from the book with you to whet your appetite!

‘Maimos is Elsa and Granny’s secret kingdom. It is one of six kingdoms in the Land-of-Almost-Awake. Granny came up with it when Elsa was small and Mum and Dad had just got divorced and Elsa was afraid of sleeping because she’d read on the internet about children who died in their sleep. Granny is good at coming up with things. So when Dad moved out of the flat and everyone was upset and tired, Elsa sneaked out the front door every night and scampered across the landing in her bare-feet into Granny’s flat, and then she and Granny crawled into the big wardrobe that never stopped growing, and then half-closed their eyes and set off.’

‘It’s difficult to say for sure whether Granny is a bit odd cause she spent too much time in Miamas, or Miamas is a bit odd because Granny’s spent too much time there. But this is the source of all of Granny’s amazing, monstrous, magical fairy tales.’

This is Granny’s motto: ‘all seven year olds deserve superheroes.
And anyone who doesn’t agree needs their head examined.’

* Elsa see the quality in everyone that makes them a superhero!

‘It’s strange how quickly the significance of a certain smell can change, depending on what path it decides to take through the brain. It’s strange how close love and fear live to each other.’

‘She stays there, grinning, the wurse does too, she’s almost sure about that. And it’s much more difficult being afraid of shadows and the dark while grinning.’ *(the wurse is a beast that protects, in real life he is a dog and my favorite character in the book!)

‘The police car skids into the street, but Sam is long gone by then. Elsa collapses into the snow as if her clothes have been emptied of whatever was in there. She feels Alf catching her and hears him hissing at the wurse to run up the stairs before the police catch sight of it. She hears Britt-Marie panting and the police crunching through the snow. But her consciousness is already fading, far away. She’s ashamed of being so afraid that she just closes her eyes and escapes into her mind. No knight of Miamas was ever so paralyzed with fear. A real knight would have stayed in position, straight-backed, not taken refuge in sleep. But she can’t help it. It’s too much reality for an almost eight year old.
She wakes up on the bed in Granny’s bedroom. It’s warm. She feels the wurse’ nose against her shoulder and pats it’s head.
“You’re so brave,” she whispers.
The wurse looks as if maybe it deserves a cookie.’

‘And Maud bakes cookies, because when the darkness is too heavy to bear and too many things have been broken in too many ways to ever be fixed again, Maud doesn’t know what weapon to use if one can’t use dreams.’

* Dreams are the cookies Maud is always baking throughout the story. I looked up online to see if there was a real recipe for these cookies and lo and behold they are a real Swedish cookie! And since when things are broken in too many ways to be fixed we all need dreams here’s the recipe for when someone you love needs them: Swedish Dream Cookies

Read this book and A Man Called Ove if you haven’t. You won’t be sorry!

On the house hunting front not so good. We’ve looked at 6 so far and one (the one with the tree house and the horses behind) is to die for, but the yard and the drive are not good for accommodating the travel trailer. Darn! I want that house! Can’t talk Bossman into selling it though :=) Another one is a nice little brick one, really laid out nice and gorgeous 1950’s kitchen, but…no back yard all front and near an industrial park and lots road noise. So we keep looking. 4 to look at today. This might take more than one trip down! But on the bright side, the local library is having their annual book sale this weekend! Yea! We’ve had lovely weather. Sunny and near or at 80 each day. The mountains and the people are lovely. We have a sweet young gal for a realtor and I really like her. Other than the terrible wifi service the campground we are at is great. Right on the Nolichucky River. We go to sleep to the sound of the rushing water! Saturday we are moving to a different camp close to Warrior Path State Park. Maybe my wifi connection will be better and I can post easier. Hope your having a great week!

Peggy Ann

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


Publisher: Atria
Genre: Literature, Adult Fiction
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-1476738017
Source: NetGalley

‘In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.’

Quirky character got me interested in this book. And Ove is quirky! And I absolutely loved him! Ove is pronounced ‘uu’-ve the uu sounds like the u in rule and the ve like vay. I looked it up! Go here and hear it pronounced, click on the little blue triangle.

The writing is wonderful, the characters excellent. I felt like I knew the whole neighborhood by the end of the book and I hated it to end. I hate to give too much away, but Ove is trying to commit suicide throughout the whole book and he is constantly interrupted, by his neighbors whom he really wants nothing to do with, and a stray cat that seems to have adopted him. Such a serious matter and yet so very funny. I laughed out loud, a lot. Lots of tender moments to that bring you to tears.

Get a taste of Ove:

”After this, he detoured through the guest parking area, where cars could only be left for up to twenty-four hours. Carefully he noted down all the registration numbers in the little pad he kept in his jacket pocket, and then compared these to the registrations he had noted down the day before. On occasions when the same registration numbers turned up in Ove’s notepad, Ove would go home and call the Vehicle Licensing Authority to retrieve the vehicle owner’s details, after which he’d call up the latter and inform him that he was a useless bloody imbecile who couldn’t even read signs. Ove didn’t really care who was parked in the guest parking area, of course. But it was a question of principle. If it said twenty-four hours on the sign, that’s how long you were allowed to stay. What would it be like if everyone just parked wherever they liked? It would be chaos. There’d be cars bloody everywhere.”

I liked the way the author describes things:

‘He had never heard anything quite as amazing as that voice. She talked as if she was continuously on the verge of breaking into giggles. and when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter.”

“Ove stands there with his hands in his pockets. The cat beside him looks as if it would do the same, if it had pockets.”

Beautiful lessons:

“On the other hand he tried to point out to her that she shouldn’t give money to the beggars in the street, as they’d only buy schnapps with it. But she kept doing it. “They can do what they like with the money,’ she said.

When Ove protested she just smiled and took his big hands in hers and kissed them, explaining that when a person gives to another person it’s not just the receiver who’s blessed. It’s the giver.”

and

“He knew better than to speak ill of what she loved; after all he understood very keenly how it was to receive her love when no one else could understand why he was worthy of it.”

A beautiful, funny tale of loss, love and reconciliation. I hope you get a chance to read it and fall in love with Ove too. We can all learn a lot from him.

Peggy Ann