Us Against You - by Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: June 05, 2018
A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don't expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they've always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it's a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might 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 the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.
Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you'll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; 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 town's enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.
Here is a declaration of love for all the big and small, bright and dark stories that give form and color to our communities. With immense compassion and insight, Fredrik Backman reveals how loyalty, friendship, and kindness can carry a town through its most challenging days.
"Backman ( A Man Called Ove) returns to the hockey-obsessed village of his previous novel Beartown to chronicle the passion, violence, resilience, and humanity of the people who live there in this engrossing tale of small-town Swedish life... Backman's excellent novel has an atmosphere of both Scandinavian folktale and Greek tragedy. Darkness and grit exist alongside tenderness and levity, creating a blunt realism that brings the setting's small-town atmosphere to vivid life."
"Lest readers think hockey is the star here, it's Backman's rich characters that steal the show, and his deft handling of tragedy and its effects on an insular town. While the story is dark at times, love, sacrifice, and the bonds of friendship and family shine through ultimately offering hope and even redemption."
"Backman is a masterful writer, his characters familiar yet distinct, flawed yet heroic. . . There are scenes that bring tears, scenes of gut-wrenching despair, and moments of sly humor. . .Like Friday Night Lights, this is about more than youth sports; it's part coming-of-age novel, part study of moral failure, and finally a chronicle of groupthink in which an unlikely hero steps forward to save more than one person from self-destruction. A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit, Backman's latest will resonate a long time."
"Backman is the Dickens of our age, and though you'll cry, your heart is safe in his hands."
--Green Valley News (Arizona)
"Mr. Backman cements his standing as a writer of astonishing depth and proves that he also has very broad range plus the remarkable ability to make you understand the feelings of each of a dozen different characters. . . . The story is fully packed with wise insights into the human experience causing characters and readers to ponder life's great question of who we are, what we hope to be and how we should lead our lives."
"A light hearted, deeply moving novel about a grumpy but loveable curmudgeon who finds his solitary world."
"If Alexander McCall Smith's and Maeve Binchy's novels had a love child, the result would be the work of Swedish writer Fredrik Backman...With his wry acceptance of foible and failure, Backman combines a singular style with a large and compassionate perspective for his characters...[His] novels have wide appeal, and for good reason.Us Against You takes a lyrical look at how a community heals, how families recover and how individuals grow."--The Washington Post
"Evident in all [Backman] novels is an apparent ability to state a truth about humanity with breathtaking elegance."