Today’s book is Beartown, by Fredrik Backman. I adored Backman’s earlier work, A Man Called Ove (again, if you haven’t read this yet, you must!), and I was expecting this work to be very similar.
That’s not to say it wasn’t good. The characters are well-developed, as is the story. Sports in a small town. The high school hero. I was NOT expecting the very timely social commentary, the hurt and empathy my feminist heart would feel for one of the main characters, and how much I identified with one of them.
Without giving away too much in case you haven’t read it, it is a story of what would you do? It explores how easy it is to bury our heads in the sand rather than deal with a true horrific problem. I have friends who have had to deal with this question. What would you do if it was your child? They have had to push for justice for their children in a variety of situations, when those who could and should help would rather pretend the problem didn’t exist. Because it would cause too much controversy, because it would mean too many hard decisions, because it’s just easier if everything goes away. Blame the victim, question their integrity, because it’s easier.
There is more I want to say about this book. More I want to discuss. But I really want you to read it, so if you have and you want to talk about it, let’s do it in the comments. Please let me know what you think and what this book says about current issues in our society. I am purposefully being vague.
I am going to leave you with this quote from the book. I loved it.
All their lives, girls are told that the only thing they need to do is their best. That that will be enough, as long as they give everything they’ve got. When they themselves become mothers, they promise their daughters that it’s true, that if we just do as well as we can, if we’re honest and work hard, look after our family and love each other, then everything will be all right. Everything will be fine, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Children need the lie to be brave enough to sleep in their beds; parents need it to be able to get up the next morning.
Next week’s book: The City & The City by China Mieville