“You run on ahead.”
I fully expected Fredrik Backman to shatter my heart with The Winners (Atria 2022), and the third and final installment of the Beartown trilogy did just that. But also as expected, it picked the pieces up, held them tenderly, and whispered hope, love, resilience, and strength.
The following is a quote from my review of Beartown:
“I’ve said before that Backman is a “heartbeat author” and that “his books are hugs, eyelash kisses, and belly laughs.” But he’s also a “heartbreak author” and his books, especially Beartown, are tinged with anger, grief, and despair. His characters and communities are so perfectly imperfect, and his storytelling style, the love and humor and warmth, is what makes a book about a rape in hockey town so fantastic.”
These words are so true of all of Backman’s work, but it’s no more apparent than it is in this 670 page novel. I’ve seen some reviews complaining about the length – don’t listen to them. This heartbreaking hug of novel is for us, each and every word – because we love the Bears and we love Beartown almost as much as Backman. Almost.
The novel opens two years after the events of Us Against You. A massive storm is battering Beartown and Hed. One of Beartown’s heartbeats dies. Backman doesn’t reveal who until over one hundred pages in, but you know; there’s only one person who would bring both Maya and Benji home. Woven through the story of loss, rebuilding, homecoming and redemption is the story of a young boy whose sister overdosed after she was raped. He is filled with rage and loneliness and despair. It very easily could have been Leo and Maya’s story, and Amat very easily could have been Mumble. It’s the finest of lines that divide us.
I’m not going to spoil this delicious and perfect conclusion, but I will say I’m going to miss Beartown. I’m going to miss the most perfect of bad boys, Benji – our hero who was destined to die young. We knew it was coming – Backman told us in Beartown. But it didn’t hurt any less. Backman reminds us that sometimes the good guys are bad, sometimes the bad guys are good, and that often we all sit somewhere in the middle.
“We are the Bears! We are the Bears! We are the Bears from Beartown.”
Read this book.
2 thoughts on “THE WINNERS – Fredrik Backman”
I just finished ‘Us Against You’ last night and came across this review. I’m already broken by the ending of that book and now I’m looking forward to reading ‘The Winners’ but also scared of being shattered again! Love your reviews, by the way!
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Oh thank you! And “The Winners” will break your heart and then hug it back together. Backman’s writing is just something so special.