If I had to pick one author who’s made the most significant impact in literature in the past decade, I wouldn’t have to think too hard because I think Fredrik Backman has taken the lit world by storm and hasn’t let go yet.
Us Against You is Backman’s second book in his Beartown series. In that first book, a small, rural town became sharply divided after the rape of a girl by the leader of the town’s hockey team. Hockey is everything to this community. Now, in Us Against You, the dust is still just settling from the shake-up in the first book, when the community learns that the hockey team will be disbanded and the many of the team’s players now play for their biggest rival.
But Beartown hockey might be saved by a local business. With the star players now playing for Hed, a new team has to be built and that falls on the new hockey coach … a woman who is not from Beartown. She’s a tough, no-nonsense woman with a knack for spotting, working with, and exploiting talent. She’ll make some very unpopular decisions in Beartown as she builds a team around Vidar – a local leather-jacket ruffian, Benji – a loner recently outed as gay, and Amat – a supremely fast player.
No one is too happy about having a woman coach (she must be a lesbian, right?) or the new leaders of the team, but what matters is – can they play? And more importantly – can they beat Hed?
What Backman does supremely well is present human nature. I can’t think of any other writer who gets at the heart of what it means to be human the way that Backman does (okay … maybe Shakespeare). In the previous book, Backman showed us the ugly side of human nature and I really didn’t enjoy that quite as much. Here he gives us a pretty good balance of some of the worst as well as some of the best of what humans can do or be.
There’s also a nice message here, of ‘just be yourself,’ with some literal head-held-high moments in the face of adversity.
Backman’s books are beautiful, and if you’re prone to tears, you might want to have a box of tissues handy as you read through this. And you should read through this.
Looking for a good book? Us Against You is another fantastic book by one of the best, most honest and forthright authors writing today – Fredrik Backman. You should read this book.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Us Against You
author: Fredrik Backman
translator: Neil Smith
series: Beartown #2
publisher: Atria Books
hardcover, 448 pages