SLIDER

'Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did.'


If you read my blog post yesterday, then you probably already know that I loved everything about Beartown. I don't know why I put off reading it for so long! I'm glad I did, however, because I was able to pick up the recently released sequel, Us Against You, soon after I finished the first. Still reeling from the emotional events in the first book, I thought I was more prepared for the second. I wasn't. But I was sucked back in from the very first lines:
Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did. We'll end up saying that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that will be a lie; the violence was already here. Because sometimes hating one another is so easy that it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”
I won't go into too much detail about the plot, but Us Against You picks up after the events in Beartown. The community was divided in the first book, and the fissures get worse in this book when the town learns that their local hockey team will soon be disbanded. Tensions are higher than ever, especially because former Beartown players are now on Hed's team. The rivalry between the two cities runs deep, and it exacerbates all the dissatisfaction and division that already exists within Beartown. Of course, things eventually come to a head.

Although you probably don't have to read Beartown first, I strongly suggest that you do. The beginning of Us Against You does revisit what happened in that book, but I think Backman's strength is in his character development. And Beartown is a character in and of itself. If you miss out on all that backstory, I'm not sure you'll fully understand how the town and the people who inhabit it got to this point. It's significant information!

Why should you pick up this book? Because Backman delivers another emotional, engaging and unforgettable story. If you read and loved Beartown, you probably want to know what happens next. So, you should read it for that reason first. But, beyond that, you should pick this up because Backman returns to characters you've grown to love and introduces you to new characters who will surprise you. He brilliantly depicts the way people are complex and proves yet again that he has a keen understanding of human nature. 
“The worst thing we know about other people is that we’re dependent upon them. That their actions affect our lives. Not just the people we choose, the people we like, but all the rest of them: the idiots. You who stand in front of us in every line, who can’t drive properly, who like bad television shows and talk too loud in restaurants and whose kids infect our kids with the winter vomiting bug at preschool. You who park badly and steal our jobs and vote for the wrong party. You also influence our lives, every second.”
Truthfully, I can't do this book justice. Backman writes in a way that is wholly unique and hard to describe. But I can't get enough! He infuses the story with so much emotion. I felt like I was on the verge of tears the entire time I was reading. I was simultaneously desperate to know what would happen next and dreading getting to the end. I care so deeply about these characters and am so invested in their futures that it's hard for me to believe they aren't real. I have no idea if there are plans for a third, but I've got my fingers crossed because I need more. 

Us Against You was on my list of best books I've read so far in 2018, and I know it will make my final list at the end of the year, too. Almost nothing I've read this year has compared to this book. It succeeds on every level: profound writing, a thought-provoking story, and well-developed characters. Backman rips my heart out but still gives me hope. This story will stay with me for years! Despite the heaviness, I know I'll re-read Beartown and Us Against You many times over because books like this don't come around very often. 

So Quotable
“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.”
Release Date: June 2018 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Atria Books
Pages: 448 pages | Source & Format: NetGalley/Kindle & Hardcover/Bought

* I received a copy of each book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the books or my review.

1 comment

  1. I loved this one too. And Beartown. Just brilliant writing and characterizations.

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