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Us Against You

Review

Us Against You

When a town experiences winter for nine months of the year, it should be no wonder that its passion turns to ice hockey. Beartown sits in a forest far away from the cities; its nearest neighbor, Hed, is its biggest rival. They’ve long had an us-against-them attitude. Beartown recently endured a scandal that took a huge toll. Some people grew better from it, others learned nothing. Now, though, the looming loss of Beartown’s hockey club threatens more than just the sport going away. It means the glue that holds the community together will almost certainly break down.

Peter Andersson, the club’s general manager, is desperately fighting for their survival. Hockey is his life. Just ask his wife, Kira; she’ll tell you. She’s always put aside her dreams so Peter could follow his. Recently, their daughter Maya became the victim of one of the best player’s crimes, which transformed her into a pariah in the eyes of many locals. See, it was easier to blame her than their sports hero. Now the Anderssons’ son Leo, at only 12 years old, has taken up his sister’s cause. Leo wants to hurt the other side even though he can’t fully understand why. He simply knows that he and Maya stick up for one another. And that it’s Beartown versus the rest.

"Immerse yourself in US AGAINST YOU, for once you open this book, you won’t be able to resist falling into the hockey town out in the woods."

Much of US AGAINST YOU centers on the Andersson family, but the story is about the entire town. Maya was thrust into a horrible role, one that she neither welcomed nor could prevent. What she does about it, though, will shape her entire future. She’s learned to cull her true friends from those who join the herd mentality. She’s learned to cope. But her parents are the ones having trouble dealing with it. Unless Peter and Kira can find a way to recover and move on, they may lose everything they hold dear.

As I said before, Beartown has a passion for hockey. That’s why it comes as a stunning blow when the council votes to dismantle the club. They say it makes more sense to support one regional team --- in nearby Hed. The council didn’t foresee the level of outrage, anger and burning hatred they would unleash with that decision. So someone --- maybe someone with an agenda of his own --- sets out to save the Beartown hockey team. If his plan works, the team will need a new coach, presenting another road bump. The person who shows up for that job is a woman, which, in Beartown, is controversial on its own, but this is a woman who causes a stir far beyond gender. She’s someone who ignores nearly every traditional rule, shrugs off nearly every criticism, and seems not to care. But she does. Everyone does, in one way or another. Nonetheless, her implacable nature teaches the team more than any amount of lecturing could. Actions speak louder than words.

As for the team --- well, Beartown has some good hockey players, but tensions run high and old injuries are hard forgotten. While each player has his strong points, he also has his tipping point, and a dark side. This is a town that has seen more than its fair share of violence. It’s almost as though it cannot exist without it, but maybe it’s time to concentrate on more positive aspects. Maybe it’s time to focus on just the game and leave aside their personal feuds. Or is it too late? For at least one person, it is.

Readers, take a break from the heat this summer to visit the icy streets of Beartown. Immerse yourself in US AGAINST YOU, for once you open this book, you won’t be able to resist falling into the hockey town out in the woods. Live among the residents for a few days. I guarantee that it will be tough to say goodbye when you turn the last page. Fredrik Backman has a rare talent for reaching inside his readers and coaxing out their deepest emotions while weaving a riveting tale that stays with you for a long time. Don’t miss out on this phenomenal novel.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on June 15, 2018

Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman

  • Publication Date: June 5, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501160796
  • ISBN-13: 9781501160790