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The Scandal

The Scandal

Blurb

Beartown is a hockey town in the nestled in the forests of Sweden.

The inhabitants of Beartown are preparing for the game of the season, The Beartown Ice Hockey Club’s junior team is in the semi-final of the biggest youth tournament in the country. To the people of Beartown the love of hockey is as natural as breathing.

When news of a violent and sickening act breaks shortly before the final of the hockey match the citizen of Beartown will be divided. Whose word do they believe and what will it mean for the hopes of the town and several of the key friendships within it when people fall on different sides of the debate.


Our Review

WARNING this review contains some spoilers.

 

I nearly didn’t request The Scandal by Fredrik Backman because I am the opposite of a sports fan and as much as anything else this a book about the love of Hockey. Having read it, I am so pleased I decided to ignore my doubts.

Beartown is a small place nestled away in the forests of Sweden, a place where a wrong decision can lead to a grown man freezing to death in the night.

The Scandal is primarily a story about a small town and the people in it, a sense of community. If it had been a hockey story pure and simple then I know I would not have enjoyed it but as it was I wanted to read and reread it.

From the opening lines of the book I was drawn in to the story without even realising it, the opening lines were gripping.

“Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger.

This is the story of how we got there.”

The inhabitants of Beartown are preparing for the game of the season, The Beartown Ice Hockey Club’s junior team is in the semi-final of the biggest youth tournament in the country. To the people of Beartown the love of hockey is as natural as breathing.

Maya’s father, Peter, is the general manager of the hockey club but Maya is not overly interested in hockey. She prefers to play her guitar or to hang around with her best friend Ana. She and Ana met when Ana saved her from drowning when they were both children. After previously losing a son, Maya’s parents have always been incredibly protective of her so Ana provided a welcome antidote to that. Now Anna has smoothed her ages in order to fit in and Maya mourns the loss of her wilderness friend but they remain close nevertheless.

Beartown is the definition of a town on the edge of a wilderness. The Scandal has some very vivid and raw descriptions of it.

“Beartown isn’t close to anything. Even on a map the place looks unnatural. ‘As if a drunk giant tried to piss his name in the snow,’ some might say. ‘As if nature and man were fighting a tug-of-war for space,’ more high-minded souls might suggest. Either way, the town is losing.”

The town is struggling to stop it’s small businesses from closing and to stop the young people moving away as soon as they are able. Winning the hockey match would likely bring investors and money into the town and because of this the people of Beartown have a lot riding on the outcome. The welcoming sign as you enter once said ‘Beartown leaves you wanting more’ but the more has faded over time.

Amat is a young player dreaming of being a star of the hockey team. His mother is a cleaner at the rink and every morning he has a deal with the caretaker to be allowed to use the rink to practice for an hour before everyone else gets there. Amat is one of the smallest on the rink but also one of the fastest but the coaches and his fellow hockey players have yet to notice.

He has been in love with Maya for years but although they are on speaking terms nothing has come of his interest in her. When Maya and another hockey player begin to develop an interest in each other Amat is sorely disappointed but hides it for the good of the team. Hockey is never satisfied with being part of your life, it wants to be it all.

Kevin is the star of the hockey team and the holder of all the towns hopes and dreams. He is dedicated and natural at the sport and a source of great pride for the town. His parents though show little interest in their son’s talents. They make sure he has the best and the right equipment, the right food from the catering company and his dad analyses his stats for every game but neither parent has attended more than two or three of his games.

Benji is Kevin’s best friend. A boy from the wrong side of the town with a reputation for being a violent trouble maker. Benji’s dad died when he was younger and he lives with his mother and sisters in a house that would fit in Kevin’s several times over.

The only one that believes in Benji is his couch David. He feels that the elements that make his a cause for concern off the pitch are what makes him an essential player on the pitch. He will do anything to protect Kevin.

When news of a violent and sickening act breaks shortly before the final of the hockey match the citizen of Beartown will be divided. Whose word do they believe and what will it mean for the hopes of the town and several of the key friendships within it when people fall on different sides of the debate.

There are few words that are harder to explain than ‘loyalty'. It’s always regarded as a positive characteristic, because a lot of people would say that many of the best things people do for each other occur precisely because of loyalty. The only problem is that many of the very worst things we do to each other occur because of the same thing.

The arguments put forward on the dominant side were sadly things I have heard said in real life. Some of the things that were said about the victim disgusted me.  I felt angry with a lot of the characters for much of the later part of the novel and that is the sign of a great book.

“it’s only a game. It can only change people’s lives.’

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.5/5

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