This book started slow for me because it didn’t focus on one person. Rather than getting deeply into a protagonist’s heart or psychology, it was more about sociology. I find it difficult to get really excited about a theme or a sport, but after about 30% in, I couldn’t put it down. By the time I was 50% in, I was so invested in each person in town, there was no stopping until I was done.
Beartown reminded me of the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. To be fair, most small towns give me a “lottery” vibe. A small town’s culture tends to supersede anything from the outside world. This can create stagnation and stagnation leads to the destruction of the community that the members were trying to preserve in the first place.
The theme that interested me most in this book was the question of how much should an individual sacrifice for the good of the community? How much should community be sacrificed for individual happiness?
In this book, Backman also approaches rape culture, group think, mob mentality, the corruption of the rich, the spread of false information (often perpetuated by the rich), and the dangers of cognitive rigidity. So, its timely in a lot of ways. I won’t go into detail because I try to avoid all spoilers when I write a review. By the way, if you love hockey, you will love this book.