Playing hockey can be a great experience for kids. Hockey teams can help community pride flourish. Hockey can bring people together. Playing hockey can also be an awful experience for kids. It can batter civic pride. It can divide people. Bear Town by Fredrik Backman looks at both the negative and positive sides of hockey. It is set in Sweden but could happen any place where people love the game.
In Bear Town hockey gives an immigrant kid a place to belong, helps a boy without a Dad find a father figure, gives meaning and purpose to the life of an old man, provides camaraderie for a hockey phenom whose parents don’t have time for him, and inspires hope in a dying community.
In Bear Town hockey creates a culture that entitles young men to think they can treat others violently. Hockey inspires vandalism and blackmail and fosters a locker room mentality that isn’t respectful of diversity. Hockey tears families apart and makes people feel hopeless.
Bear Town is suspenseful. It tells a story that will engage you completely. If hockey has ever played a role in your life as a fan, parent or player it will make you think about that experience in new ways.