The Winners by Fredrik Backman
The Winners (#3 Beartown) by Fredrik Backman
Genre: General Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Published September 2022; 670 pages
First Sentence: "Everyone who knew Benjamin Ovich, particularly those of us who knew him well enough to call him Benji, probably knew deep down that he was never the sort of person who would get a happy ending. Obviously we still hoped."
The final story in the Beartown saga brings back all our favorite characters and, as a good series should, introduces a few new ones. The plot is simple: it's the story of two small towns, a sports (hockey) rivalry that takes over and makes grown men lose their sense; it's a story of two families from those rival towns with teenagers who have lived and breathed hockey their whole lives and have forged lifelong friendships; it's a story of love and loss, corruption and ambition, and what people do to save themselves and others.
But why does it take over 600 pages to tell the simple story of a sports rivalry? Because that's only the surface of what this book is about.
This trilogy is definitely one to read in order. This book makes a lot more sense if you know the history and background of the main characters. There are plenty of snippets referencing the past that kind of fills in the big spots, but to truly be immersed in the lives of the characters, start with Beartown.
My goodness. This. Book. I found this book extraordinary in many ways. First and foremost, the writing. Backman uses a similar staccato style (short, impactful sentences) in The Winners as he did in Beartown, and I love it. I find it punchy and adds to a feeling of anxiety and urgency. I realize this style of storytelling might not be for everyone because, although there's plenty of descriptive passages, they are rarely about a place or nature or what a person looks like. Instead the descriptions are about relationships, about feelings, about societal norms and what happens when they break. If you like character driven books, this series, particularly this book, is for you.
"In hindsight she'll think that her and Peter's biggest mistake when they argue is always the same: that they pull away when they ought to be reaching out, they raise their voices instead of lowering their guard, that they hold grudges rather than keep their ears open. But their worst sin, the very cruelest of all, is when they don't tell the whole truth and then convince themselves that this isn't the same as lying."
I find his observations about people and their emotions and reactions to be insightful and usually accurate. I found myself rereading passages and reading them aloud to my husband to say, "Listen to this - isn't this amazing?" because I was astounded, once again, at his writing. No one is a thoroughly good guy and no one is a thoroughly bad guy. Just when I'd think the bad guy doesn't have a redeeming bone in his body, he says or does something that softened my heart and when the character with the white hat has that hat slip a little, I'd smile to myself and think - ahhhh, he's NOT perfect! And, that's what makes each character perfect.....their flaws and whether they can overcome them. Just outstanding character development.
Though the book is a daunting size (670 pages), I wouldn't get rid of one of them. I smiled; I felt good; I felt sad; I felt anxious, and all the other feels AND I cried through the last 30 pages. My goodness. This. Book.
European Reading: 3/10 Sweden
Literary Escape (bonus): 8/51 and 11 bonus (Sweden)
Library Love: 20/65
Popsugar: 9/40 prompts
COYER 1st semester: 32 books read
Read the World: Sweden (12)