Book Title: Us Against You
Author: Fredrik Backman
Series: Beartown #2
Genres: Sports Fiction, General Fiction
Pub Date: 6/5/18
After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will 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 Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.
Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.
Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did. We’ll end up saying that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that will be a lie; the violence was already here. Because sometimes hating one another is so easy that it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.
Have you ever loved a book so much you think your heart might explode? That’s precisely what I feel might happen each time I pick up a Backman novel set in the world of Beartown. The style of writing is wholly his own, but the author manages to speak in a voice that makes you feel as if an old friend is relaying a bit of local history; the story is a conundrum of comfort and unsettling suspense, gripping the reader by the heart and lungs until the final page is turned. It may take awhile to breathe again though, be warned.
People we love will die. We will bury our children beneath our most beautiful trees.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t constantly on the brink of tears during the entirety of this novel. The emotions were so strong and so raw that I would have to put the book down for the night, not because I wasn’t dying to see what would happen next, but simply to process and stew on what I had just absorbed and process. Backman had me by the fibers of my being when he wrote that “this is a story about hockey rinks and all the hearts that beat around them, about people and sports and how they sometimes take turns carrying each other.” The heart and essence of this story, stemming back to Beartown, is a community of folks on the brink of losing everything and having no choice but to cling to hope and each other. The all encompassing atmospheric nature of the book is claustrophobic in the best way, and will draw you in a little more with each phrase.
People will say that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that won’t be true, because it was already here. Because people are always dependent upon other people, and we can’t ever really forgive one another for that.
While there is a good bit of reiterating that goes on for the first fraction of the book, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend reading Beartown first. You’ll miss out on all of the character development and reasons to become invested otherwise. The story took off immediately after the rehash and I was a blubbering mess of emotion from then on. Mr. Humphrey wanted to know who died and I told him I couldn’t talk about it just yet. #toosoon The best, and hardest, parts involved my precious pumpkin Benji. He’s a favorite among many other readers and for good reason; his character is deep, broken, and so lovable that he comes across as both aloof yet relatable.
If you loved Beartown last year, I would highly recommend picking this up and reading it IMMEDIATELY. If you have still haven’t read BT, pick it up immediately so that you can pick up Us Against You up right afterward. I’m not sure what the longterm plans are for the community of Beartown, but I need more! Maybe this could be rounded out into a nice, neat trilogy? *Chants BEARTOWN BEARTOWN BEARTOWN!* Thank you Atria Books for providing an early copy.