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Beartown cover art

Beartown

By: Fredrik Backman
Narrated by: John Sackville
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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Beartown by Fredik Backman, read by John Sackville. 

Beartown is a small town in a large Swedish forest.

For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together - or pulls them apart.

Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. A bright new future is just around the corner.

Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. 

It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who'll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

With the town's future at stake, no one can stand by or stay silent. Everyone is on one side or the other.

Which side would you be on?

Previously published as The Scandal.

©2017 Fredrik Backman (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"As popular Swedish exports go, Backman is up there with ABBA and Stieg Larsson." (The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Beartown

Average Customer Ratings
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Sound check

Loud volume from guest voice-overs which varies greatly from the narrator. Very off-putting.

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7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I guess I had high expectations

Well written, enjoyable - but I was always waiting for the climax which I felt never real came.

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    1 out of 5 stars

Beyond disappointing!

After seeing so many positive reviews I thought I had the wrong book for a second. I am not sure how this could have been written by the same incredibly talented author. I tried to persist, I took breaks and then I tried again and again repeating the same cycle and then feeling depressed and bored beyond belief I decided to give in.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Compelling

Touched on so many aspects of life and how society behaves and responds.
I would recommend this book to everyone and think it should be on school book lists because it addresses such a wide range of behaviours and would encourage discussion.

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3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great writing, really needs a better editor.

Backman writes really well and Sackville narrates beautifully. Unfortunately the story tends to over-explain and reiterate itself repeatedly. If I were reading I would probably skim all the "yeah yeah you said this before" paragraphs and really enjoy this, but in audio format it got quite frustrating.

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  • Deb
  • 24-11-2017

Layers

Ostensibly a story about a hockey team but soon you find yourself caught up in a complex community.

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Brilliant, weekday a story teller.

The final chapter had my goosebumps up for six minutes. So very well written. Loved it.

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A well written tale

I was slowly dragged into the lives of this small ferocious community. Felt sad to say goodbye to the many well-drawn characters .

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Loved it

There is a lot of time spent building up the background to the story. Stick with it because once the event at the centre of the story occurs, it is vital. As always with this wonderful author, a superb story, rich in characterisation.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Bit of a boring story.

At times, you lose interest due to the story being dragged out. The story goes back over it’s self a few to many times.

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  • Ms A Robinson
  • 07-04-2019

Brilliant

This is a great story about humanity and how hard it is to survive, but survive we do. A story about a hockey town ( although it could have been any other male dominated sport). A story about parenting, friendships, prejudices, deceit, love, humour, cruelty - it’s has it all, yet told in such a simple fashion that it is truly wonderful.

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  • Cheryl Ann Carter
  • 27-06-2018

Inaudible

Loved the story. Listened on a very long car journey. The recording was not always audible. The narrator was so inconsistent that we missed whole chunks of the book. It was not possible to turn the volume up because in some parts it was then so loud as to be offensive, going to so quiet we couldn't hear. Very irritating and frustrating. It sounded as though the narrator kept moving his mouth away from the microphone.
We are not crazy to buy another title to see if it was just this narrator or a a general problem and so will probably cancel the subscription before we have to pay.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Megan Dyamond
  • 25-02-2018

Backman delivers another beautiful story

Riveting story, detailed and credible characterisation., and searing emotion.
John Sackville reads it with the exact pitch of a sympathetic observer, drawing you in to Beartown in all its strength and frailty.
I loved this book.

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  • Joel Resare
  • 19-10-2018

Fiction or non-fiction?

Growing up in rural Sweden this really swept me back in both the best ways and the worst. Excellently written with great insight of the real areas described.

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  • Josh
  • 26-07-2023

A deeply truthful fiction

This book was such a hard read in places as it shone a cold brutal light on real issues. The truth of it is painful. I’m glad I read through as you feel the healing the Maya feels. Deeply thought provoking. You may question why you picked up this book, you may wish you didn’t, but you won’t regret finishing it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-03-2023

Not for everyone

Harsh, difficult, insightful,well written. Not a happy,cozy read at all. A rape is the centre. Not what U expected at all. Clipped voice of reader drove me nuts! Had to speed up so it would sound normally instead of irritating staccato.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacques Hollands
  • 25-01-2023

Except for "bang, bang, bang, bang", it was great

A friend recommended the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was uncanny to see the similarities between this book and the 1999 movie Mystery, Alaska. Both are set against a backdrop of a small rural town where ice hockey rules supreme.

The characters were very well-developed, and the book probably deserves 4.5 stars. A passage in the middle of the book was a bit slow, so I cannot rate it 5 stars. The book's ending, while executed satisfactorily, could have provided a bit more thrill. Another reason for rounding down instead of up was the repeated use of the word "bang". I realise the author wanted to emphasise the commitment of players practising, but it was repeated so often that I started comparing it to Neymar's rolling antics - it just kept going on and on. I did a quick word count, and the word was used 119 times, often in sequences of "Bang-bang-bang. Bang. Bang". This was repeated incessantly and, frankly, became extremely annoying. I also listened to the audiobook (Audible), which made it hard to gloss over. These were big enough issues for me to downgrade my rating.

Other than that, the author does a very good job of highlighting bias regarding matters close to people's hearts. It is probably nowhere near as evident regarding their favourite sports. The lengths individuals will go to to protect their stars are often as disturbing as the despicable acts these stars are accused of.

There are two more books in the series, and I will probably read them later.

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  • Rachel Maritz
  • 19-11-2022

Deeply human characters

Fredrik Backman creates true and complex characters with meaningful relationships. I have bookmarked so many phrases that touched me and where situations were so clearly and eloquently described. A beautifully written book packed full of drama, tension, humanity and emotions. The narrator captured the emotions so well and created true personalities with unforced accents. A job well done. Here and there the sound varied as if he stood closer to the microphone or moved away - which was probably a recording glitch, but not the fault of the narrator.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Eirin Mikalsen Orum
  • 12-11-2022

Gripping, full of drama, emotion and compassion

Fredrik Backman is an exceptional writer that always manages to heve me as a reader a real relationship with the complex and developing characters. For someone who never cared for hockey at all and grew up on the wrong side of small town group dynamics, it was a tough pill to swallow when I came to love characters that live and breathe such stuff in all its horror.

The glimpses into different characters experiencing the same or subsequent time periods became so short towards the end that it was hard to keep track and make my brain jump to the appropriate setting. This is probably much less of a challenge in print than in audiobook format , and might be correlated to my lack of sleep by the time I wrapped up the book, so I just resign myself to having to return to understand exactly what happened to especially Benji.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Concerned buyer
  • 26-02-2021

Gripping and sad. Worth a listen

Not an easy listen. This is a story that deals with real issues - culture, parenting, substance abuse, abuse, rape, and what we choose to see, understand and/or accept. Ultimately a gripping story.

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  • elaine blaus
  • 01-09-2017

Learnt a lot about ice hockey!

I really enjoyed this book, a great story but also loved the context, as it's a setting I knew nothing about. The characters were extremely well developed and you can empathize with them all. It was also great to listen to a story set in ice and snow in the middle of a Madrid 40 degree summer.

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  • Jen Mackenzie Antler Art
  • 01-10-2017

Great story, terrible voices!

I absolutely love Fredrik Backman so was really looking forwards to this book. it's very different to his others but still totally gripping and brilliant.
I did however have a seriously hard time getting used to the narration; nearly returned the download at first to swap to my kindle but stuck with it as it meant I could listen to it while I work. It's fine for the narrator type tracts but the kids voices were just awful! Like some bad Nickelodeon cartoon where adults are obviously trying to sound like kids. I dunno, it just sounded off...I'd be interested to see what other people thought of it!

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  • carol
  • 18-12-2017

excellent

OMG this book was brilliant. I couldn't stop listening it was fantastic. I loved this book.

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  • Hopeful Customer
  • 20-09-2017

Also published as Beartown

Disappointing in every way. Poor story and bizarre narration. Where did those accents come from?

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  • C. Long
  • 04-12-2017

Another beautiful book by Fredrik Bachman.

I have loved all of Bachman’s previous books. I love his gentle humor and his social observations so I was a bit reticent when I saw his latest book was about ice hockey.

I shouldn’t have worried. This is a beautifully written and performed book that is about community, human nature, teams oh and ice hockey and it is wonderful.

This book covers a lot of serious issues but it manages to do it in a way that gets the reader thinking about different perspectives and why people are how they are and it dies this in a manner which somehow keeps the book light and interesting.

I don’t want to spoil it for you but outlining the plot so all I will say is that I am so sad that I have finished the book and I am looking eagerly online to see if Fredrik Bachman has anything else planned.

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  • Carsten
  • 14-09-2017

Amazing book!

.... like all his other ones ;-) great story and very sensitive observations on the human condition.

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  • SteveB
  • 15-01-2019

Gripping from start to end

I absolutely loved this. Although the hockey backdrop is important, this is primarily an intricate study of people. There were so many characters but I felt I knew them all. I also thought the very calm narration worked really well. I know it's only January, but I can't see how this isn't going to finish up as my best read of the year.

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  • Miss
  • 16-01-2018

I love this author

Fredrik Backman has an incredible insite into the human psyche, he has a talent that will push you to tears and to laughter in the Dane sentence and this book is no exception

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  • Darkstomper
  • 06-11-2017

Slow to build but in the end strong

This took awhile to get into. I’m not sure if it was the narrator or the content. Very strong end and enjoyed. Nothing at all wrong with the narrator per se but it just didn’t seem to fit the story.

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  • MARY-ANNE
  • 26-10-2017

I want to read this again

This was the most amazing story of love, hate and emotion it made me cry then laugh. What a talented author, I have loved all the books I have read so far and I’m hungry for more!

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