BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman, a 2017 publication

Those of us on the Texas Gulf Coast (I am located 30 miles south of Houston and 30 miles north of Galveston) are not used to waking up to 19 degrees with “feels-like” numbers of 9. We have shut everything down for the past two days since we are not equipped for sleet, snow, and frozen precipitation of any kind. Upon waking up, I thought I must be in Northern Beartown (a fictional town) deep in the forest where ice hockey is equivalent to life. Everything in Beartown revolves around hockey, and the high school Junior Ice Hockey team are the stars of the town, approaching a state championship. The players are celebrities, envied by students and adults( some former ice hockey stars themselves) alike. These young men are taking on their shoulders the hopes and dreams of their beloved Beartown.

As the team approaches the finals, there is a shocking act of violence.  Was it rape? Is the reader to believe Kevin, the superstar, or Amhed, the janitor’s gifted son, who is a recent addition to the team? What happens to an individual who dares to “go against the grain” and challenge the superstar hockey team? “…like ripples on a pond, [events] travel through all of Baytown, leaving no resident unaffected.”

This novel was reviewed and recommended by blogger friend, James J. Cudney, author of Watching Glass Shatter and the blog, “This Is My Truth Now.” I listened to it on CD’s (11 discs/418 pages) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The one drawback, which may have been accentuated because I listened to it, was the rough language. However as a veteran of junior high school teaching, the language was appropriate because it is exactly what high school young men would use.

You will be as caught up in Beartown’s story: its inhabitants, its team, its school administration and local government, and most of all, its high schoolers and their families, as I was.