Beartown; Fredrik Backman
Atria - 2017
Beartown is a small close-knit community in Sweden, surrounded by forests. The town doesn't have much going for it, except that it's residents are believers that a better day is coming. The town has an ice rink and the junior teen ice hockey team are excited about competing in the semi-finals. Ice hockey and competition becomes all consuming.
There are a lot of characters in this story, each with their own story or personal issues. The pass for the sport is felt throughout this novel, but, there are also some tough issues that surface and the execution of these difficulties is beautifully done. Bear town may be a small town but, they still must deal with many of the issues larger cities face: Sexual assault, homophobia, bullying, peer pressure and the need to belong.
The story starts out a bit slow but once it gets going, it was hard not to become a little emotionally invested in the lives of Beartown residents. I started listening to the audio (beautifully done) and I also had the luxury of reading the print version as well. Recommended
Rating - 4/5 stars
Moonglow; Michael Chabon
Harper - 2016
Moonglow was our July book group read and of the 14 group members, only (1) liked the book (I did not like it).
The book was nearly 500 pages and touted as fictional, non fiction, as well as an autobiography wrapped in a novel, disguised as a memoir. The story unfolds as a deathbed confession of sorts of a man referred to only as "my grandfather". Over the course of a week the reader hears tales of war, marriage, sex, the space program and more.
Here's what some of our book group members had to say -
- the story seemed to lack focus and was hard to follow and confusing
- oftentimes, the players were unnamed and you didn't know who was being written about
- couldn't connect to the characters
- the story switched back and forth in time too often, it was not put together well.
- some really didn't care what happened to the grandfather as he came across as a mean child who grew into a mean man.