Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there.
That is the whole of chapter one of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown. And if that doesn’t make a rather stunning first impression, I don’t know what does.
What I love most about Backman’s writing is the little bits of insight that spark forth from his perfectly flawed characters. Take this bit of wisdom from chapter 2:
She hates hockey but understands her father’s love for it; the sport is just a different instrument from hers. Her mom sometimes whispers in her daughter’s ear: “Never trust people who don’t have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason.”
My first impressions of this book are similar to those I have had with all of Backman’s books. This will be a character-driven novel…a study in humanity with all of its beauty and ugliness. He doesn’t shy away from what makes us horrible and weak, or what makes us amazing and strong. And he has no trouble blending the negative and positive within one person.
So far, two people in my newly constructed (non-virtual) book club have finished the book, staying up too late and burying themselves in the pages, falling in love with the town.
I, on the other hand, have been busy and unable to even begin. My plan is to dive in and stay under as soon as winter break begins.
Until then, maybe you can stay up too late getting to know Fredrik Backman. I’m sure you will love him as much as I do.