“Everyone is a hundred different things, but in other people’s eyes we usually get the chance to be only one of them.” Fredrik Backman, Us Against You.
The citizens of Beartown are about to lose their beloved hockey team (introduced in the 2016 bestseller, Beartown) and their rivals in Hed—where many former Beartown players now carry stick—could not be happier. A new coach is appointed, a woman, and teenagers fill out the roster. Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker, have heart, but is that enough to win?
I’m a huge fan of Fredrik Backman. A Man Called Ove garnered 5 stars. Anxious People did too. I only gave Beartown 4 stars because of its bleakness. With Us Against You, the author continues down a dark path. People fight about hockey, politics, and jobs. They go at it on the ice, in the woods, and in bars. So much anger. So much violence. So much emphasis on sexuality.
As always, his characterization is spectacular. Us Against You features a complicated cast of characters—too many—and I grew to love them despite their flaws. They are authentic, passionate, and loyal, but also violent and cruel. Each of Backman’s books is a study in human nature and he is a brilliant writer. This book showed the importance of a team, whether as a sports team, a family, a gang, or a circle of friends.
I appreciate how he tells a story without getting caught up in lyrical sentences and an overabundance of adjectives. He gets 5 stars for writing this one, but only 3 for the disturbing plot. I’ll read the next book in the series, but it will be awhile.