I had this strong itch to order Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, right after I finished reading Beartown because:
a). Us Against You is the sequel to the Beartown in a 3 book series.
b). I just needed any excuse to read Backman. Again!
But I showed some unusual restraint and waited a couple of months because the thing about reading a book written by Fredrik Backman is that it takes you on an emotional journey.
It sucks you right in!
The experience of reading the story, the emotional waves you go through, and the attachment you feel to the characters is unlike anything I find in other books.
Because you see he doesn’t write Fantasy, or thrillers or mysteries or horror, he writes about what it is to be a human, attached to many people and finding an identity in your community.
Yeah… that is exactly how I’d define it.
Now, Us Against You.
I’d suggest you read the first book which I’ve reviewed and loved to death, before you begin this one.
You can read it as a standalone but there will be things you may not understand without the context set in the previous book.
Which leads us to what goes on in this one:
Us Against You starts off in Spring/Summer after the terrible incident takes place between the star hockey player (Kevin) and the daughter (Maya) of the hockey team’s General manager Peter Andersson.
“Unfairness is a far more natural state in the world than fairness.”
It has divided the town into two, and no one fairs well even after Kevin moves away with his family.
Maya is still being bullied and wrongfully attacked by the kids for ruining hockey, even though everyone acknowledges the fact that Kevin did commit the heinous act.
Kira – his Anderson’s wife – is finding it hard to maintain a work life balance when all she has done is sacrifice so much for her family by putting her career in the backseat.
Leo – their youngest son – has taken to a path of violence to avenge his sister like 12 years old can do.
“He’s twelve years old, and this summer he learns that people will always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”
Peter is close to losing his job, and the board is shutting down Beartown Hockey club.
Until, a new politician has some other plans and other stakeholders involved which can bring things around for the club, but not for its main supporters who breathe life into the games; the Pack.
“Exclusion is a form of exhaustion that eats its way into your skeleton.”
We’re introduced to a new Hockey Coach, who is extremely unusual but all business when it comes to Hockey.
“Death does that to us, it’s like a phone call, you always remember exactly what you should have said the moment you hang up.”
People die, both from natural causes and well not so natural cases, and it takes everything in you to not feel like your heart is breaking into 1000 pieces.
Us Against You, doesn’t give you the happy ending you wanted!
It definitely gets way worse for the people of Beartown, but hopefully it gets better in the next one.
There is no denying how much hurt you feel for Bobo and Benji – the two friends of Kevin – who trusted him blindly but had the guts to call him out and not remain friends when his true character is revealed.
“It’s impossible to measure love, but that doesn’t stop us coming up with new ways to try. One of the simplest is space: How much space am I prepared to give the person that you are so that you can become the person you want to become?”
Also, there is a lot of politics which gives this book a very realistic feel, which Backman in his author’s note agrees to be inspired by the town he grew up in.
“I don’t want you to take me places, I want you to back me up so I can get there myself!”
Overall, I adored this book. I adored all the characters. Even the new ones, although early attachments lead to unexpected twists and turns.
“Sometimes people have to be allowed to have something to live for in order to survive everything else.”
Nonetheless, life may be tough but the people of Beartown are tougher and you can take everything away from them but you can’t take the bear away from hockey or the hockey away from the bear.
Or something like that.
It is integral to their community, and it shows in every single page.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “Fathers need to seize the day, because childhoods are like soap bubbles; you get only a few seconds to enjoy them.”
- Reader level: Easy paced.
- Should you read: If you love Backman then you must!
- Would I read it again: Absolutely! Waiting for the third one anxiously now.