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Beartown #2

Us Against You

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After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published August 21, 2017

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About the author

Fredrik Backman

35 books62.6k followers
Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,831 reviews
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,573 followers
July 30, 2022
Where does one begin when it comes to describing an author whose books constantly amaze you to the point you cannot easily put them down for any reason other than an emergency? Fredrik Backman has struck gold with the second book in the Beartown series, Us Against You. After I survived a book daze last year with the series debut, I read another of his works which catapulted Backman into my top 5 of favorite authors. Once I learned he had written a second book in the Beartown series (they are all translated from Swedish) recently, I had to read this next one... and his publisher, Atria, contacted me to see if I was interested. How lucky can a guy get? When I finished it, Backman is now sitting pretty, completely unreachable for a good while, in my top 3 all-time favorite authors.

At first I was a little worried, I must admit. I'm not a big sports fan, and while I loved the first book, could I really become immersed in hockey again? I worked at Madison Square Garden for 10+ years and spent many a night with NY Rangers fans and players. Once I started reading the new book, I also realized the first 15% was a re-hash of the earlier book. It's extremely well-written, so it was easy and smooth, but what did that mean for the rest of the novel? Well that concern quickly disappeared because enter a smooth-talking politician playing games in the background to re-ignite the flames between Hed and Beartown all in the name of getting himself more power. All the earlier characters are back in action, fighting to save the Beartown hockey team, protect Maya AND Kevin (her rapist). What??? What's wrong with people is all I have to say. The words on the pages truly push readers to ask a simple question. Is the attack of one girl worth losing someone who could save an entire town from bankruptcy and possible dismay. Hopefully we all think FIRST about poor Maya, but then you wonder: Do you allow 1 person to keep suffering all in the name of saving the rest? Should the Anderssons just leave Beartown and start over, despite never having done anything wrong? It's questions like this that plague you as you read the book -- yet never ONCE does any character actually ask that. It's all subtle. And I'm not weighing in with my opinion as it's fiction... all meant to transport us to a world of torment and shock.

Enter my favorite character, Benji. He's tragic. He's powerful. He's weak. He's lost. He's yearning for something he can't control. He is trapped between right and wrong. The story focuses on him this time in the same respect as it did Maya last time. While he's not attacked in the same way as she was last time (as he'd kill anyone who tried to hurt him), Benji is abused on so many more levels. But don't worry, he gives back just as much as he gets, and that's why I adore him. He makes mistakes, but he fixes them. He hides, but he's got a plan to emerge more victorious. He loves his sisters and is an honorable man (boy? he's 17/18) we all should respect. But he's gay, and well, you know what that means: Beartown can't support him. Hed will do everything to hurt him. They constantly chant "Fags. Whores. Rapists." Yet deep down, you know they all want to support him. I'm not giving away any spoilers, as we learned he was gay in the first book. I just didn't expect the second to focus on him.

Yet Backman nearly killed me about 2/3 through when disaster happens and I thought for a moment, I can't finish this book. After what he's done to Benji, I'm just done. But I trudged on and I'm so glad I did. I can't think of another author right now who can let me down and build me up so many times in a book... to the point where they could be talking about hockey or pencils and I still feel a passion I rarely feel in life about most things outside of books. I want Beartown to win. I want Peter to get his dignity back. I want the new coach to prove women can be better than men at things. I want it all... and Backman delivers it all -- just never in the way I expect.

Someone loses. A few people actually. And it's harsh. You will cry. You will throw the book. But you will pick it up again because it's become part of you. This must become a movie. I will be the first in line to watch it, and I don't often go to the movies.

There's very little to dislike in this book. You may hate certain characters, but they make you love the story all that much more. You might disagree with a plot line, but it will lead you to the right ending. You may want to strangle a few teenagers, and honestly, it may be okay in this instance. I'm not advocating killing kids, but there are just some people who need to be punished for the things they say or do . (Don't quote me on that!!!)

I'm really left with... PLEASE give us a third book of equal power and humility. I will do anything.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
September 12, 2021
Update Re-Read: Nov 2020 - Because sometimes, your favorite characters give you everything you need and in case it's not obvious, I bleed Bear. **Buddy Listen with Kaceey in November 2020*

5 Gut-Wrenching, Sock-it-to Me Stars!

Some of my favorite people, live in one of the most memorable of towns and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Most however, wear their hearts on their jerseys. Their Hockey Jerseys that is. They used to be all the same. Then something happened. Something bad. And now Beartown and all of its residents are divided. Now it’s Bear v. Bull: Beartown v. Hed. And their hearts, as well as ours have been torn apart. “Us Against You.”

Peter Andersson’s life has been defined by Hockey. Being the GM of the Beartown team is all he knows. Even though he and his family lost almost everything last year, hockey was the one thing he could count on, till now. When he gets a second chance to save his team, Peter is relieved and then anxious, for nothing is as it seems. Politics has invaded Beartown, the Hockey team and Peter’s life. Which one is strong enough to survive?

Beartown is a place where Hockey rules. Always has, always will:
It’s a simple game, if you strip away all of the crap surrounding it and just keep the things that made us love it in the first place. Everyone gets a stick. Two nets. Two Teams. “Us Against You.”

For the last year, twelve year-old Leo Andersson has sat on the sidelines watching his family fall apart. First Maya and now his parents. The time for sitting and watching is over. Now is the time for action.

Maya and Ana are the best of friends. As long as they have each other, they can survive anything.

Beartown Hockey has received a new lease on life. A new coach has taken over, a coach who wants the best players. Players we know and love who have everything it takes to win and who love their town. Benji, Amat, Bobo and Vidar (the new star goalie with a bad temper and a big heart). Benji is now the Captain of the team and is responsible for everyone else. Benji, whose pain is the most palpable. Benji, whose story breaks me in two. Amat is the fastest player on the ice, no one can catch him now, nor will they ever be able to. Bobo loves hockey, but he loves his mother more and is the best son she could ever ask for.

For the last year, I have carried so many of these characters with me. Ramona (owner of the Bearskin Pub), Amat and Benji. My Benji. I just love him. I have wanted and needed to know that he was ok every second of every day, wondering, worrying, waiting. Reading both “Beartown” and “Us Against You,” I have felt Benji’s angst, fear and pain, it seeped in my veins and took over. “Us Against You” made me feel a myriad of emotions. It made me anxious - nerves endings completely raw, scared and sick to my stomach, and just a complete sobbing mess, many times over. Fredrik Backman makes you feel that. Time and again. He makes you feel every single thing his characters are feeling (whether it’s “Ove,” “Britt-Marie” or my Benji). To me, Benji and all of the other characters in this book are real. I consider most of them my friends and in case it’s not obvious, my heart bleeds Bear.

“Us Against You” is the sequel to Fredrik Backman’s “Beartown” which was one of my top two reads of last year, with Backman being my absolute favorite author. In order to get the full background into the characters, I suggest reading that book first. Though this novel started out a little slow, it takes off soon enough and delivers in a way that only Backman can. “Us Against You” is a sequel with heart and it stole mine immediately. I look forward to it grabbing yours in exactly the same way.

A huge thank you to Ariele Friedman at Atria / Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC of this novel to read and review. You made my year! Thank you also to NetGalley and the amazing Fredrik Backman. I love your characters Mr. Backman. Benji and Britt-Marie? Well, I hold them both very close to my heart.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram on 3.18.18.
*Will be published on Amazon on 6.5.18.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,438 reviews78k followers
September 28, 2022
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.

Have you ever loved a book so much you think your heart might explode? That's precisely what I feel might happen each time I pick up a Backman novel set in the world of Beartown. The style of writing is wholly his own, but the author manages to speak in a voice that makes you feel as if an old friend is relaying a bit of local history; the story is a conundrum of comfort and unsettling suspense, gripping the reader by the heart and lungs until the final page is turned. It may take awhile to breathe again though, be warned. 

People we love will die. We will bury our children beneath our most beautiful trees.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't constantly on the brink of tears during the entirety of this novel. The emotions were so strong and so raw that I would have to put the book down for the night, not because I wasn't dying to see what would happen next, but simply to process and stew on what I had just absorbed and process. Backman had me by the fibers of my being when he wrote that "this is a story about hockey rinks and all the hearts that beat around them, about people and sports and how they sometimes take turns carrying each other." The heart and essence of this story, stemming back to Beartown, is a community of folks on the brink of losing everything and having no choice but to cling to hope and each other. The all encompassing atmospheric nature of the book is claustrophobic in the best way, and will draw you in a little more with each phrase.

People will say that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that won't be true, because it was already here. Because people are always dependent upon other people, and we can't ever really forgive one another for that.

While there is a good bit of reiterating that goes on for the first fraction of the book, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend reading Beartown first. You'll miss out on all of the character development and reasons to become invested otherwise. The story took off immediately after the rehash and I was a blubbering mess of emotion from then on. Mr. Humphrey wanted to know who died and I told him I couldn't talk about it just yet. #toosoon The best, and hardest, parts involved my precious pumpkin Benji. He's a favorite among many other readers and for good reason; his character is deep, broken, and so lovable that he comes across as both aloof yet relatable.

If you loved Beartown last year, I would highly recommend picking this up and reading it IMMEDIATELY. If you have still haven't read BT, pick it up immediately so that you can pick up Us Against You up right afterward. I'm not sure what the longterm plans are for the community of Beartown, but I need more! Maybe this could be rounded out into a nice, neat trilogy? *Chants BEARTOWN BEARTOWN BEARTOWN!* Thank you Atria Books for providing an early copy. 


Ugh these Beartown novels are SO GOOD. It's funny, because they aren't typically in my pool of genre reading, and I'm not a sporty person, but I adore these characters, the setting, and the unsettling nature that permeates throughout. It's a testament to his impressive writing that Backman can make me fall in love with aspects I usually dislike. Full review to come.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2020
'beartown' is one of my absolute favourite books, so its only natural that i am so enamoured with this sequel as well, with each book being one half of a beautifully broken heart.

fredrik backman is one of the most talented storytellers i have ever read and this book is proof. there is so much strength and power in his writing. his words are so rich and full, that i can only read so much at a time because there is just so much to savour, so much to cherish. his thoughts are compelling and insightful, and so perfectly capture what it means to be human and the complexity of the human experience. he takes ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances and makes you care about them, makes you cheer for them, makes you love them. you cant read this and not feel beartown and its citizens make their way into your heart.

i am of the strong opinion that fredrik backmans work will considered and taught as classic literature in the years to come.

5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,823 followers
September 5, 2018
Backman crawled in my chest and found each heartstring.

Then he pulled . . .

Then he pulled harder . . .

And, now, I am a blubbering mess!

This is a more than worthy sequel for the fantastic novel, Beartown. If you are looking for a duology that IS humanity and IS characters, this is it! Storytelling, storytelling, did I mention STORYTELLING! Welcome to about 50 different lives – not all of whom you will agree with, but in the end you will likely sympathize or empathize with.

I have had some great experiences with Backman. My last one (My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry) was not great, but it just shows that he is willing to step outside the box and try different things. I can respect that and it makes each of his stories more interesting – wondering what he is going to do each time. But, I was glad to get back to Beartown and Backman remains one of my favorite current authors.

My only warning on this duology is that there is some difficult subject matter. So, if you are someone who has issues about reading about controversial topics, approach with caution. I think Backman does a great job handling it all, but I cannot speak for other readers. I know my wife found the first book a bit intense.

Read Beartown! Read Us Against You! If you like good storytelling, you must!

Profile Image for oyshik.
210 reviews664 followers
February 3, 2021
Us Against You (Beartown,#2) by Fredrik Backman
Thought-provoking, engaging, and heartwarming.Where book 1 was about the occurrence of dark tragedy on a young resident, this book is about the aftermath. I just faced a bit of difficulty starting in this book. However, I have come to empathize with the plights of small towns and most importantly, the portrayal of parents trying to protect their children.
What does it take to be a good parent? Not much. Just everything. Absolutely everything.

Wonderful story.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,003 reviews36k followers
March 5, 2018
“Communities are like ice, not water. They don’t suddenly flow in new directions because you ask them to, they change centimeter by centimeter, like glaciers. Sometimes they don’t move at all”.

When winter comes to Beartown and Hed....everyone talks about Hockey. Some people support the red team - others the green team. Both teams have had their share of wins.

I thought “Beartown” was *exceptional* - Backman’s darkest most complex book — It had ‘everything’: incredible stories about each of the characters.....centered around ice hockey- but it was much much more than that. We got to intimately know the kids - the parents- their struggles. It was soooo emotional ...
At times I felt angry as can be - other times sad, hopeful, afraid, fearful, worried, inspired....hanging onto every ‘emotion’ WITH the characters. “Beartown”was a big time favorite book for me.

In “Us Against You”....it took me longer to authentically feel emotional ‘with’ the characters. For the longest time - I felt I was reading ‘the news’ and more recaps of ‘the news’. I knew everything going on, but I wasn’t getting that ‘buzz’ feeling. I had the facts and information - but my heart wasn’t connected in the same was it was in “Beartown”.

The first place that I genuinely felt ‘something’ —13% into my Kindle book- was when I was imagining- Maya - YEARS LATER - in her future - writing music - performing songs she had written from years back when she was a teenager - about her good friend Ana. I imagine Maya doing well - a successful singer - grateful - opening her concerts with a song she wrote about her friend.....from the summer they spent hanging out on the island. I was really touched.
Something in Backman’s writing at that moment just got to me. Even after finishing the entire book - it was still one of my favorite moments.

There are many characters in this story we re- visit from Beartown -- and new characters who join in.
I didn’t think the new characters were nearly as well developed as the original characters. Or as emotionally felt. At times, I even got a little bored with some of the star characters from the last book.

Overall we see how a sport can make people break - ( we clearly saw this in “Beartown” too)...Add more politics to “Us Against You”, ...and we see the problems elevate. - more evil - violence - bullying - prejudice- jealousy- anger - all elevated ...but I just didn’t ‘feel’ the intimacy in the storytelling as much this time.

The 2nd half of the book picked up for me....and ‘my heart’ became more invested, as the tension did.
One of the characters I really liked throughout this entire novel was Kira - wife of Peter Anderson ( who was General Manager of Beartown’s Ice Hockey team in the last book).
Peter - ‘not’ a warm cozy guy - feels betrayed by the entire community in Beartown ...but is offered a job in Hed. I was quietly screaming at Peter most of the novel to listen to his wife Kira!

Elizabeth Zackell is the new female coach hired. I liked her strength - her fearless attitude- but I still would have liked to know ‘her’ more.

Bobo was a character I adored ....he just took my heart. Everything about him....from the type of son he was to the type of big brother he was.

Amat, Benji, ( and his three older sisters), Leo, Ramona, Maya and Ana - etc. I definitely still cared for everyone in “Us Against You”....but - for me - there was no where near the deep emotional punch as in “Beartown”.

3.7 rating — a little shy of a full 4 strong stars. STRENGTHS & FLAWS.....but glad I read it!!! Backman is still one of my favorite authors. I’ll read every book he writes!
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
792 reviews12.3k followers
July 6, 2018
4.5 stars

Emotionally Gutting

Us Against You is the emotionally charged sequel to Beartown. Hockey still rules, but emotions are high, the town is falling apart, new friendships are formed and new enemies are made. There’s also a new coach, a new villain, and a new love connection. Secrets are exposed, friendships crumble, and sadly some characters don’t survive. Most significantly, hatred has spread its ugly wings leading to horrible consequences. But in the end, love conquers.

I just finished reading Us Against You and I have to say I am a bit of a mess. Having the opportunity to revisit but then say goodbye once again to some of my favorite characters put me through the wringer: I laughed, I cried, I yelled. Even though I am familiar with Backman’s writing, I still almost had several mini heart attacks. While I was a little resistant to reading this, as Beartown had been a magical reading experience for me that I didn’t want to tarnish, in the end, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go back to Beartown and I am glad I did!

I was so very excited, but also a little nervous going into this. Having loved Beartown, my expectations were extremely high. In the beginning, I was shocked to find I couldn’t connect to the characters or the storyline. I was bored, upset, and wanted to DNF. But I couldn’t give up, so I kept on going. I’m not sure what was missing in the beginning, but finally, after reading 150 pages I felt the magic!

It was difficult to say goodbye once again to these characters. I hope to visit with them again in the future.
I would recommend Beartown and Us Against You to everyone. It’s hard to put in words what these books encompass--they are truly something special.
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,109 reviews2,792 followers
September 17, 2022
Us Against You (Beartown #2)
by Fredrik Backman, Marin Ireland (Narrator)

Experiencing this story is not easy, but then it's not supposed to be easy. We are back with the characters from Beartown, the first book in this series, with a few new to us characters added to the mix. Beartown, and the neighboring town of Hed, have enough problems without outside influence but there will be a politician who will be pulling the strings of both towns, the townsfolk, and fate, and I despise the man. Not that he'd care, there isn't a lot that he cares about and it's certainly not the the citizens of either town.

Politics aside, if only we could really set politics aside, my heart hurts for the characters I've come to know, because they are going to experience loss, on the ice and off the ice. And it hurts most when it's one of my favorite characters hurting another favorite character. But it's as if none of the characters can keep from hurting each other, on purpose or by accident. I listened to the story with dread, the foreshadowing is heavy in this book, as it was in the first book. But I guess that is best since I don't know if I could stand the sad things that happen if I weren't prepared for bad things to happen.

It's funny, I wouldn't want to be in Beartown, in the midst of all the turmoil, hurt, blame, and accusations but I can't put these books down. I want to know what is going to happen to each and every person that I meet in these stories and I'm so glad that there is another story after this one. I'm so glad I picked this series up and I don't think I want it to ever end.

Pub June 5 2018 by Simon Schuster Audio
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,600 reviews24.8k followers
June 4, 2018
Beartown is a town struggling to survive, left shell shocked and reeling after traumatic events swept through it with the force of a destructive emotional hurricane. We return to the place where hockey is loved with a religious passion, defining the community identity, with returning old and new characters. Any lover of sport will love and relate to this story, and those readers that are not should know that whilst this is ostensibly about hockey, it is in reality a tale of all that it is to be human. This is about people with all their complexities, flaws, ugliness, vulnerabilities, machinations, hatreds, courage, joy and hope. What I can guarantee is that you will be taken through an intense maelstrom of emotions, from the depths of despair, grief, sadness, right through to hope and joy. Beartown simmers with violence just waiting to be unleashed, presenting a challenge and quandries to community and individuals.

Thanks to manipulative political decisionmaking, the nearby town of Hed gains the resources and many of Beartown's hockey players, igniting strong feelings of them and us as a new hockey team is set up in response. An unexpected newcomer is appointed as coach, Elizabeth Zackell, a strong, tough and competent woman. Benji, with his secrets and inner demons gnawing at him, is made Captain, with the team including the gifted Amat and his best friend, Bobo, a grafter, along with the volatile Vidar, a goalkeeper with a ferocious temper. Peter Andersson faces family difficulties, his marriage to Kira is beginning to show its cracks, Maya's suffering continues though is eased to some degree with her strong friendship with Ana, and poor Leo thinks he should have protected his sister. As the rivalries and tensions escalate, danger and heartbreak lies ahead as individuals are tested to their limits.

Fredrik Backman writes a profoundly moving, multi-layered novel which will appeal to fans of any sport and to those drawn to the dynamics of a small town fighting to stay alive, where everyone knows everyone and their history. Beartown harbours secrets, prejudices, sexism, bullying, political intrigue and more. I continue to adore Benji, feeling for him throughout his troubles and Ramona, at the Bearskins pub. This is an introspective character driven story that is thought provoking in true Backman style touching on important issues such as parenting. Just absolutely brilliant reading, intense, twisted, gripping, full of suspense and I understand that another Beartown novel will follow, I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with these much loved characters. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
October 20, 2022
Oh yeah! I realized I didn’t write a review for one of my favorite books. So I reread some parts, nodded my head and sat behind my typewriter ( I wish! It would be cooler version of me but I’m using my laptop like a regular person)
Welcome back to our town for one more final twist.

Beartown was one of the masterpieces steal your soul and capture an important part of your mind that make you feel for those characters, see the town like a living, functioning organism with its struggles and challenges to find its spot on the map. Unfortunately town earns its identity with hockey. When winter comes, its people get more excited, vivid, energized because that means the hockey season is about to start.

So after reading the epic ending of the first book, I said: Okay that’s incredible! Any other book the author writes cannot exceed this book’s soul crushing, powerful effect on me. I wanted to think after the book ended, all these characters had their HEAs. I already dreamed beautiful future for Maya, Benji , Ana, Leo, Romano. But when I grabbed this book, my sweet, Disney type flowers and dancing elephants kind of happy ending crushed into pieces. Yes, the author’s dark, harsh, realistic slaps were ready to shake you to the core one more time.

Beartown loses its team and financial resources at the same time. Their rival Hed transfers their major team members. Everyone is so unhappy, angry, disappointed. The beginning of the book is a little slower, giving us some journey to the past for reminding what happened at the first book and what caused the town’s new struggle.
After the violent incident, Maya completely changed her and verbal abuses and attacks still continue to harass her. She is a ticking bomb about to explode.

Her brother Leo slowly starts some signs of his growing anger because he still blames himself not to be able to protect his own sister.

Their father and team’s coach Peter also crumbles into pieces because his family is drifting apart and he cannot find a way to do things right because he also lost his job and without hockey in his life he doesn’t know who he is and what his life purpose is. He cannot show his feelings so he closes himself, building more barriers not to show his pain and anger.(I want to grab him from his collar and scream at his face: “Please talk to your wife! Listen what she says! She is smarter than you! “)

Another bomb, ready to destroy himself is Benji, still living with his big sisters, furious about his father, furious to keep his sexuality secret.

And let’s not forget Amat and Bobo. They seemed so lost, so defeated and they deal with their own family struggles. I love those kids so much and good to see them back.

As I mentioned, first parts of the book were a little slow and disappointed for me. But then Elizabeth Zackell is hired as a new female coach and yes, my attention is already captured. Finally a brand new, feisty, vivid, incredible character joined the team.

And new lies, secrets start to come out, tension rises so yes you want to chant with excitement because finally the book returned back its amazing pace and you cannot put it down because things get uglier, more violent and vulgar. You keep reading because your heart throbs faster and you want to know what’s gonna happen next.

And of course conclusion is magnificent one more time. So I’m happy to go back to Beartown and read more about characters’ journeys and introduced brand new, amazing characters. Mr. Backman is a great painter, using his words like palette colors and paint unforgettable drawings for our souls. I cannot wait to read his upcoming works.

OVERALL: This is unique gem at the literature jewelry store, please buy it and carry it with you forever.
Profile Image for Larry.
76 reviews8,775 followers
April 19, 2022
Just dawned on me that I should read Beartown first…will come back soon!

Though I loved both Beartown books, I think I actually liked this one slightly better than the first. Continued great character development for many from book one, with the introduction to others that really made this story shine. I remain thankful for the author’s ability to weave multiple storylines seamlessly together without making the experience so chaotic that I lose track or interest. He’s my favorite, no doubt.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,285 reviews2,205 followers
March 6, 2018

Beartown is a hockey town by a forest in Sweden, but that won’t tell you much unless you know what it means to be a hockey town where lives are dominated by the sport and the thought of losing the team is devastating to so many. In “Beartown”, Backman says: “Why does anyone care about hockey?...Because it tells stories. " Indeed it tells stories once again in this sequel. This town feels familiar - the place in the forest, this hockey town , a community of parents and children still reeling from what happened there a couple of months before, characters that I came to care about. I was anxious to know what has happened with them - Maya, Leo , Amat, Benji , Ramona and others.

Beartown is about to lose its team and the resources will go to their rivals in the town of Hed. It’s a loss for the Five Uncles who sit at the bar each day and now won’t have anything to talk about . But for others, the pain and sadness is not because of hockey. It may seem that way at times but the pain that these characters are burdened with and the secrets they carry have more to do with life than with hockey. Leo is angry because he couldn’t protect his sister. Peter is devastated about his daughter but doesn’t really know how to show his love for his family and they are falling apart. Maya will forever be changed by what happened to her, silently breaking. Benji, the star hockey player and fighter is sad and angry over his dad and is keeping the secret of his true self. Ana, left by her mother and dealing with her alcoholic father on her own is a life saver to her best friend Maya.

It’s a slow churn at first and I thought somewhat repetitive, not with “Beartown” but within this book itself. I was feeling a little disappointed, but then something changed. I was captivated once again by Backman’s talent as he moves from one character to the next, as he creates a suspense which had me waiting for something awful to happen. It’s so introspective as we become privy to the thoughts and feelings of so many characters, so in-depth for such a cast of characters. The simple phrases that depict profound thoughts on what unconditional parental love is, about the depth of friendship, about marriage and ambition, expectations, rivalry, loyalty, love and hate are stunning. It’s so hard to really understand how hate can give way to violence in the guise of a sport rivalry, and perhaps it’s something more. In spite of my early reservations, I have to give this 5 stars since the rest of the book more than makes up for the slow start. Backman remains one of my favorite writers. If you loved ”Beartown”, this is a must read.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,026 reviews58.9k followers
July 2, 2018
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is a 2018 Atria Books publication.

A sullen, yet optimistic examination of a town suffering an identity crisis and the residents who must learn to adjust to a new normal-

While many of us became fans of Fredrik Backman because of his unique ability to weave whimisical stories, featuring quirky, but loveable characters. This method of presentation often softened the darker tones. With Beartown, however, Backman didn’t sugarcoat the darker elements and created an edgier story than some were accustomed to, but one that truly resonated with many people.

Us Against You is the follow-up novel to Beartown and deals with the fallout and ramifications of the events that transpired in the first book, beginning with Maya’s assault accusations, which turned her family into pariahs.

When Peter learns that Beartown’s hockey team will be dismantled, he finds himself at the mercy of local politicians with their own shady agendas. The team players are offered positions with the rival town of Hed. This creates a division, on top of the tensions surrounding the situation with Maya, ultimately exposing a gap in priorities, and shines a bright spotlight on misogyny, and the lack of diversity. As a new team begins to form, the competition between the two towns reaches a fever pitch.

Meanwhile, Peter, Kira and Maya struggle to find balance in their lives again. For Peter, hockey is all he has ever known, and he has no idea how to give it up- not without a fight- even if he must make certain concessions. Kira is once again in the position of putting her career, her marriage, and herself in second place so that Peter can still pursue hockey- while both of them struggle to come to terms with what happened to their daughter.

Eventually, the tensions boil over- with devastating results…

As I said in my review of “Beartown” you don’t have to understand anything about hockey to ‘get’ this book. You can substitute a number of things for hockey, instead. Here in Texas, high school football is a molten god and many small towns depend on it for their revenue, their very identities, which was a parallel I immediately related to, but it doesn’t even have to be about sports- it’s whatever issue or situation that becomes an obsession. In this case it's blowing a sport, or a fun pastime out of all proportions, turning it into something else entirely.

The characters in this novel are complicated, raw, and so very human and so very real. Backman has a real knack for nailing human frailties, exposing the most sensitive fears and conflictions, as well as understanding the dynamics of small towns everywhere. While the story is bleak, the town and characters suffering setbacks and dissension, progress is not completely off the table. We’ll see people go to hell and back, face their darkest demons, take bold strides in combating ignorant bias and destructive attitudes and behavior, which will provides that allegorical explanation of the book’s title. Backman’s characters are pragmatist, occasionally cynical, often reflective, but also optimistic and tenacious, eventually leading them to a destination they were long overdue to arrive at.

In so many ways, Beartown points a mirror back at all of us- It’s me- it’s you- it’s every town, every city, everywhere. Once again, Backman nails it. This is a very thought provoking read, and expansion of Beartown that left me in a very contemplative mood, but also one of peace, and with a feeling that these characters can only go upwards from here.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,152 reviews18.3k followers
November 14, 2022
“Because sports isn't reality, and when reality is hell we need stories, because they make us feel that if we can just be best at one thing, perhaps everything else will turn and start to go our way, too.”

It took me two years to pick up this sequel to Beartown. Two years where I had to find the will to be destroyed all over again. Fredrik Backman seems to be scarily good at that.

I want to say that this story is about two things: hockey and Benji. But to say that almost seems unfair to the rest of the characters who are given as much page-time as him, who are just as significant as he is, but there’s something about Benji that stands out. Or rather, that my heart just latches onto more.

It also feels unfair to the rest of the plot. There is so much that surrounds this story, it feels ridiculous to reduce it to just hockey only. But this small-town’s identity relies on hockey in its absolute entirety. And when it tries to get taken away, things become ugly. You see these characters, this town, do everything they can to ensure its survival. Because hockey's survival means their own survival, their identity intact.

No one does character study, people study, like Fredrik Backman. His writing is divine.

It’s also tragic as hell. It took everything out of me to read this till the very end. My emotions have been depleted, because they were consistently on high alert. And now I feel scattered.

Beartown. I love it. I despise it. This town sucks majorly. But the quality of people it has produced, the community it has created is admirable. I don’t know whether I want to be a part of it or not. It has experienced some abhorrent things. You see the town and its people at its worst and very best. They’re complex.

That ending was equally excruciating and heart-warming. The tears were running, because I was both happy and heartbroken. It has left a dent in my soul.

And I think those words sum up this series so far: happy and heartbroken. Moments of joy are few and far in between but when they occur, your heart can’t seem to contain the joy, the goodness. But you know you are on your way to sadness. It’s inevitable. And you need to know that it takes everything out of you, because you grow to care for these characters and their town and everything they represent.

Trigger warnings for homophobia, sexual assault, grief and loss of a child.


I haven’t even finished Beartown yet, but I’m marking this as ’currently reading’.
Yes, it’s that good.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
March 14, 2018
"...we only pretend hockey is complicated, because it isn't really. When you strip away all the nonsense surrounding it, the game is simple: everyone gets a stick, there are two nets, two teams. Us against you."

Frederick Backman's Beartown (see my review) was probably the best or second-best book I read last year. This story of a Swedish town that is literally obsessed with hockey, and which faces a crisis that will practically tear the town apart, surprised, delighted, and devastated me, all over the course of a few short hours as I plowed through it very late one night.

Given how I felt about that book, I approached the sequel, Us Against You , with a bit of trepidation. Could Backman achieve magic in Beartown again? Were there new stories to tell, and would they affect me with the same level of emotion and, frankly, devotion, that the first book did? Once again, I plowed through the 450-page book within a few hours, and stayed up very late at night to finish it. Now I can answer my questions unequivocally: yes, yes, and oh my god, yes.

In fact, I'll leave it to Rob Lowe to sum up my feelings.

Beartown is struggling to right itself after the crisis which nearly destroyed the town, but so many lives will never be the same. The town is dealt another blow when it learns that their beloved hockey club will be liquidated, a decision of local politicians, and all of the funding will go to the hockey club of their rival town, Hed, where many of the former Beartown players have gone. This decision upends those for whom hockey was a job, a dream, an escape, a scapegoat, and a tradition.

But one crafty person isn't willing to let Beartown hockey die—it's all part of a larger master plan for power. A most unusual coach is hired, and they begin building a new team with an unlikely squad of players—Benji, the lone wolf battling between self-destruction and redemption; Amat, smaller than the other players but perhaps more talented than anyone; Bobo, Amat's best friend, who can't skate well but can't imagine a life without hockey; and Vidar, an exceptionally talented goalie with an exceptionally short (and dangerous) fuse.

As Beartown, and its residents, try to recover, marriages and long-time friendships will be severely tested, loyalties will be questioned, split-second decisions will damage and endanger lives, and hearts will break. Violence becomes a more-present part of their everyday lives as the rivalry between Beartown and Hed intensifies, and the big game draws near. Everyone will face moments which could utterly destroy them, but amidst all of the darkness, there are glimpses of hope.

"People will say that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that won't be true, because it was already here. Because people are always dependent upon other people, and we can't ever really forgive each other for that."

This book absolutely blew me away. I wasn't sure if Backman had it in him a second time, but he has written a sequel that is just as good as its predecessor, which was exceptional. I love these characters so much—the ones you root for and the ones you root against. Reading this book was like getting to visit old friends—you revel in every minute because you know you'll be sad when your time together is over. That was definitely the case here.

You really should read Beartown first, both because it provides a great framework on which this book is built, and because it is fantastic on its own. Even though these books are about a hockey-obsessed town, they are about so much more than that. That's where Backman keeps surprising you.

God, I hope there's a third book. I'm ready for another late-night read, where I'm laughing and sobbing and feeling sentimental all over again. Who can ask for anything more?

NetGalley and Atria Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
991 reviews2,762 followers
April 29, 2022

I have read all of Fredrik Backman’s books and Beartown was probably my favorite. I know I’m in the minority here but “Us Against You” just didn’t elicit the same emotions for me, it was a bit of a disappointment. After I read Beartown I felt as though it was complete story and so I was a little surprised that the author chose to revisit the town again.

The first 30% of the book dealt pretty much with getting the reader caught up with the characters from Beartown and what had happened the previous year. This part for me was a skip through because I already was knowledgeable about what had transpired. That said, Mr. Bachman’s writing was again outstanding as he summed up all characters and what they had gone through emotionally and physically the past Fall and Winter.

Now it’s summer and the kids are free to try to heal as are the parents. A new character, Richard Theo, a politician, is introduced and adds his twisted, manipulative narrative to this new season for the hockey team. A lot of time is spent on what he is doing, but not so much on why he is doing it? We are left with wondering if he is just incredibly selfish and wants notoriety for himself or if there is something else that is going on? I really couldn’t understand how someone could care so little about the people he was about to hurt.

A lot of time is spent on “The Pack” and it’s influence in the town. I felt myself growing tired of Teemu, Woody and Spider and the rest of the group. I have a hard time believing that such a small group of men could hold so much sway in the feelings of the townspeople. Not not only did they seem to control the hockey team’s endorsement but also the town’s feelings about the rape, the homosexual issues, the woman coach and how much violence was used to get what they wanted. I had had enough of them by the end of the book!

Benji and his sisters play a large part in this book and those moments with them are definitely some of my favorites. His sisters are committed to their brother and want so much to protect him from some of the things he is about to do, but he is almost a grown man and they are left with just loving and supporting him, which was a wonderful thing to see.

Hog is an amazing character and a great father. He is so supportive of Bobo and understands his son’s strengths and weaknesses. He wrestles with the loss of his wife but the family is a strong unit and seem to be able to survive this great tragedy.

I was disappointed that nothing was included about David and the boys who left to play for Hed, they are still residents of Beartown to my understanding and I would have liked to know what their thoughts were now that they decided to play for the opposing team. I’m sure it was not an easy decision for many of them.

As if there haven’t been enough changes in Beartown, a woman coach is hired to resurrect the Beartown hockey club. She is tough, skilled and treats all of her players equally. This is a woman I was glad to see introduced into the story. I also loved how the ending was pulled together with her and one of the other players.

In the end I was glad to have read this book but I don’t think it “measured up” to Beartown or “Britt Marie Was Here”, two of my very favorite Backman books. I’m sure many, many people will be glad to revisit the town but for me it was bittersweet and the ending still left with me with lots of unanswered questions. I will of course be on the lookout for the next Fredrik Backman novel as he has been added to my list of favorite authors.

ADDENDUM: Since I published this review yesterday it has come to my attention that there is to be a Beartown #3 and that the author always intended a trilogy. I thought it was interesting but I don't know that I need a third book, I'm not a series kind of person (with the exception of Harry Potter)

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Christine on hiatus, see “About me”.
589 reviews1,136 followers
September 23, 2020
6 stars!

Six stars because I liked this one even better than the glorious 5-star Beartown.

Wow! Fredrik Backman understands human nature better than anyone I’ve ever met or ever read. We are taken deep, deep, deep into the minds of virtually all the characters in this story. And Backman nails it. These people are so real! Us Against You is a spell-binding masterpiece and my favorite Fredrik Backman book so far (out of 6 novels) though each of them earned 5 stars from me. Us Against You addresses many issues in many characters in an extraordinary manner. There really isn’t one main protagonist. There are many. And each one is developed intimately. The themes of the novel are numerous yet meaty and are woven together just beautifully. Small town versus small town. Family member against family member. Best friend versus best friend. Young teenager against the world. Wise men. Wise women. The corporates versus the non-corporates. Conflict, hate, violence, despair, redemption, love, forgiveness. Soul searching—an abundance of soul searching.

Outstanding bits of wisdom are found in every chapter: “Anyone who feels responsibility isn’t free. Because responsibility is a burden. Freedom is a pleasure.” “Cynicism is simply a chemical reaction to too much disappointment.”

Backman also writes the best tie-ups of any author I’ve read. Virtually every character of any note gets some final words, very satisfying words, in the last few chapters, though there are some things left for us to ponder ourselves. And some things that will likely be addressed in book 3. Another unique feature of Backman’s writing is the way he places breaks in a chapter in to order to make sure a point is emphasized. Many times I paused in my reading to fully appreciate what he was telling the reader. Good stuff. Great stuff. And without exaggeration, there are no wasted words in the entire book.

I must also give props to Mr. Backman for being the best author in terms of giving the reader enough background from the previous book in the series to get you up to speed for the sequel without boring you and without making you dig through the earlier book. Having said that, starting with Us Against You without reading Beartown is strictly prohibited. You will lose much of the joy and meaning of reading the former without reading Beartown first. And Beartown is better than any book I’ve read this year (including the great Crawdads) other than Us Against You.

Like so many of you reading this, I believe Backman is now my favorite author. Sorry Tana. Sorry Angela. Sorry WKK. Sorry Ms. Bolton. The thing I love the best about him is that he gives me ALL THE FEELINGS. Gosh, I mourn these books when I’ve finished them but am so grateful there will be more to come. I’ve only been moved enough twice in the past to actually buy a book I read for free from the library or Net Galley--Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center and The Likeness by Tana French. Now there will be 4, including Beartown and Us Against You.

Recommended for all readers.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
743 reviews11.8k followers
December 31, 2022
“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.”

This is not a happy story. It’s a story that shatters your heart and glues it back together - but it’s never going to be the same again. This is a story of a small town torn apart by intolerance and prejudice and ultimately violence. It is a story of a small community on edge, grappling with the consequences of choices made and choices not made. After all, “a community is the sum of its choices.”
“The truth about most people is as simple as it is unbearable: we rarely want what is best for everyone; we mostly want what’s best for ourselves.”

Beartown is a small dying remote Swedish town, in economic decline and still reeling from the events of the previous book, Beartown. The embers left from the fallout of a hockey star boy raping a young girl, leading to a huge rift in the community — “As if the problem wasn’t that a girl was raped but that it happened to become public knowledge” — are still smoldering, and despite the ambiguously happy-ish ending of the first book, the town is still teetering on the edge of explosion, and it won’t take much to push it over the metaphorical edge.

The town lives and breathes hockey — but the events of the previous book cost it not only the promising junior hockey team but also all the perks that it could have brought and what the town desperately needed, and all the luck and much-needed money seem to be headed towards the neighboring town of Hed, and Beartown is approaching an economic dead end all while resentments and grievances and hatred simmer right below the surface, ready to break through at any moment.
“People driving through say that Beartown doesn’t live for anything but hockey, and some days they may be right. Sometimes people have to be allowed to have something to live for in order to survive everything else.”

The cracks are becoming rifts too wide and deep to bridge. The smoldering embers are ready to spring into a firestorm., and all you need is to light a match. Add a populist politician to the mix — and the volatile situation becomes downright precarious.
“Unfortunately, that isn’t what we’re going to remember in a few years’ time. Many of us will just look back on these months and remember … the hatred. Because that’s how we function, for better or worse: we always define different periods by their worst moments. So we will remember two towns’ loathing for each other. We will remember the violence, because it’s only just started. Of course we won’t talk about it; we don’t do that here. We’ll talk about hockey games that were played instead, so that we don’t have to talk about the funerals that took place between them.”

This is a story about anger, rage, divide and violence. Violence that to some, like a traumatized preteen brother of the girl who was raped, seems like the only light in the ever-expanding tunnel, the only spark of hope and something to aspire to. Violence, that to the local hockey-crazed gang is the only way to solve issues. Violence that is an easy go-to for the angry and confused teenagers whose world no longer fits the habitual comfortable mold they had been used to. Violence that allows a lonely angry and volatile closeted teenager to blow off steam and provides a tightrope for a tortured and confused soul. Violence that seems like the easiest way to restore fairness and balance between two rival communities. Violence that can be steered towards political gains by an astute and unprincipled politician.
“Violence is the easiest and the hardest thing in the world to understand. Some of us are prepared to use it to get power, others only in self-defense, some all the time, others not at all. But then there’s another type, unlike all the others, who seems to fight entirely without purpose. Ask anyone who has looked into a pair of those eyes when they turn dark, and you’ll realize that we belong to different species. No one can really know if those people lack something that other people possess or if it’s the other way around. If something goes out inside them when they clench their fists or if something switches on.”

In a soapbox speech of a committed pacifist — violence begets violence. Aggression and intimidation and resultant violence are too often taught to children as ways to solve problems, and those are what those children carry with them into adulthood and pass on to their children. It seems amplified in a sport like hockey, with the brutal physical fights that are encouraged, and extreme fans aggression, and of course, the win-above-all mentality. The devastation that violence and aggression bring can be stark.
“It’s always the aggressors’ feelings we have to defend. As if they’re the ones who need our understanding.”

Small communities can easily harbor resentment and grievances. They may find it hard to move with the times, abandoning old prejudices and ways of life. Misogyny and homophobia can find ripe ground there — present everywhere, of course, but much more visible in a small town where a girl was “asking for it” and homophobic slurs are basically punctuation, especially in the world of hockey. And all you can hope for is the other side to emerge in people - the one that has reason and compassion, acceptance and tolerance. And at times it does, and at times it doesn’t, and it’s heartbreaking — since, as Backman is fond of stating, “a community is the sum of its choices.”
“Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did. Because sometimes it’s so easy to make people hate one another that it feels incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”

In Us Against You Backman is more subtle with his characterization than in Beartown. Yes, some characters remain starkly monochrome, but way more are allowed greyness and moral ambiguity. “Good” characters are allowed to slip up, to make decisions that are quite questionable, and those in the wrong are allowed organic moments of redemption and doubt. The characters develop and grow, and are challenged in very heartbreaking ways. They are flawed and vulnerable and raw, and are wonderfully real.
“But children are the only people who don’t have to take responsibility for anyone but themselves. The rest of us have to take responsibility for the things we cause to happen. You’re a leader. People follow you. So frankly, if you can’t take responsibility for the actions of your followers, that makes you nothing but a monster.”

Backman’s writing - and the excellent, brilliant translation that allows it to shine (hats off to Neil Smith for his outstanding work) - remains a captivating voice of deliberate, confident, omniscient and brimming with quiet and unsettling philosophical narration. My only issue with it is Backman’s propensity for misdirection, telegraphing terrible events that seem to happen to the characters, just to show in a few pages that things are not as bad as misdirection would make you think. On the other hand, this misdirection is exactly what I’m relying on for my future sanity, as far as Benji is concerned.

I loved it. This book made me angry and sad and hurt and happy. It broke my heart and then glued the shattered pieces together. And I loved it.

4.5 stars.
“In the end an eighteen-year-old man is left standing outside an ice rink thinking “Who can I be, if I’m not this?”

My review of “Beartown”: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Recommended by: Elizabeth


2022: Buddy reread with Dennis. Last book of 2022 and it’s worth it.

Ready for the last book and the heartbreak that will come.
Profile Image for Kendall.
638 reviews640 followers
May 8, 2018
5 gut wrenching bang bang stars!!

I fell in love with Beartown last year by Backman and had the highest expectations for Us Against You. Well.. ..my friends I have to tell you... don't worry your pretty little heads because Backman delivers exceptionally well ONCE again.

Backman delivers a raw and beautifully well executed novel that makes you feel vulnerable in ways you can't imagine! Oh my gosh.... I was a sobbing mess with a SEVERE case of goosebumps upon the final page of this book. It's contagious.... I'm telling you!! I will wear a bear on my sleeve eternally <3 <3.

The characters are what MAKES this novel. Backman is truly so talented and how effortlessly he allows his readers to see how complex, raw, and REAL the characters are. This book yet again is so much more then a story about hockey. Love, family, strength, courage, grief, and sadness can bring two worlds that seem miles apart together in an instant.

"Us Against You" is the sequel to Beartown. I would definitely say to read Beartown to get the full background of the characters. I do have to say that it took me awhile to get invested and it felt a little slow ... BUT, how dare I doubt Backman at ALL! Shame on me ;). I can't recommend this book enough... it took my heart and I promise you that it will take your bear heart too!

I'm not going to go into the details of the story since I don't want to give anything away but READ this book!!!!

"How can something that bangs away at us so horribly hard on the inside not show up on the pictures as black scars, scorched into our skeletons?"

"Bang, Bang, Bang."

HUGE thank you to Netgalley and Atria/Simon & Schuster for the advanced arc in exchange for my honest review.
Publication date: 6/5/18
Published to GR: 5/6/18.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,733 reviews14.1k followers
May 28, 2018
It was the best of times and the worst of times. This is a fitting quote for what is going on in Beartown since the end of the last book. Beartown has lost many of their best hockey players to Hed, their own hockey team has lost most of their support and sponsor money. But then, seemingly a miracle, a politician gets involved, new factory, new someone, new coach, a woman. Peter gets to keep his job as General Manager. Politics and sports should never mix, as many will find out by books end.

So many times I put this book down, to think about what I just read, to wonder at this author and his insightful comments, and yes, because I was overcome with emotion. (The marshmallow effect strikes again.) This author shows us,
The best and worst of living in a small town.
The best and worst of being part of a team.
The best and worst of parenting, marriage.
The best and worst of friendships and
The best and worst of being different.

Plus, he has given us so many wonderful characters, varied, flawed, so very human, characters we can fully embrace. Tackles many of the problems inherint in small towns, weaving a story that I didn't want to end.

By books end, he had broken my heart, in the best and worst possible way.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Brandice.
855 reviews
March 9, 2019
Well Backman, you’ve done it again! For the second time, I’m fully invested in Beartown, its residents and of course, its hockey team.

After everything that happened in Beartown, Maya, Benji, Amat, and all the other characters we grew to know, attempt to move forward, which often times (as in this case), is easier said than done.

”...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.”

Tensions are running high with former friends, classmates, spouses, and of course, with the town of Hed and its rival hockey team. New characters arrive in Beartown this year, adding to the mix. I was very curious to see what would happen and how existing relationships would be impacted.

Initially, I was extremely hesitant about even reading Us Against You, having absolutely loved Beartown and feeling the ending to its story was fitting - I was satisfied. Then when I heard there would be a sequel, I became curious though cautious. A sign of a good story, for me, is knowing when to stop. I read reviews of Us Against You, many of which were mixed, but the majority were leaning positively. Finally, I decided to give it a go. I didn’t love it quite as much as Beartown but did really like it, and was pleasantly surprised, as sequels don’t always deliver. I’m glad I joined the party - better late than never.

Backman has a true talent for bringing his characters to life. I didn’t like all of them, but I did at least feel for each of them at one point or another. Benji remains my favorite character, without question.

”...it’s a simple game if you strip away all the crap surrounding it and just keep the things that made us love it in the first place.”
Profile Image for Theresa Alan.
Author 10 books1,016 followers
June 3, 2018
“It’s so easy to get people to hate each other. That’s what makes love so impossible to understand. Hate is so simple that it always ought to win. It’s an uneven fight.”

I hadn’t read Beartown, so the beginning of this book threw me because I didn’t realize it was the second in a series. Once I got into the characters that make up the town and the hockey team that the town revolves around, it stood on its own just fine. For much of the last fifth of this novel, I had tears in my eyes.

Beartown is a small town, and their biggest rival is another small town, Hed. After Beartown is divided because an evil act of violence, many of the best of their hockey players leave to play for Hed. Beartown gets a new coach, who’s ready to rebuild the team.

We watch as families and towns fracture and repair. Individuals who are ostracized find a way to survive and thrive.

“The complicated thing about good and bad people alike is that most of us can be both at the same time.”

This is another wonderful read by Frekrik Backman (I’d previously read A Man Called Ove.) Highly recommend.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Simon and Shuster for the opportunity to review this book, which comes out this Tuesday, June 5.

For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
Profile Image for Lori.
359 reviews425 followers
March 3, 2020
I can't write a review that will do this book justice. There's so much to it. So many things to think about, so many characters to think about. I'm still in awe. Days later I'm still in Beartown, and I've figured out what's bothering me and has been ever since I finished the book: I don't want to leave. I want to stay and talk about it, I want so much to talk about it. And I'm frustrated and sad, because the only people I want to talk to about it, the people with whom I want soooo much to talk to about it, are all in the book. Over a coffee or a beer or one kind of whiskey. In the forest, in the rink, at the kennels, in the pub. They're part of my heart now. Frederik Backman, you amaze.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,143 reviews2,503 followers
November 1, 2020
Old characters reappear and new characters are introduced in this book, the follow-up to last year's phenomenal hit, Beartown. There's drama, marital difficulties, bullying, rivalries, political machinations, and heartbreak. This book may not have the impact of Beartown but fans will have much to enjoy with this new novel. Backman excels at insights into human nature and writing characters that are easy to care for.

The writing is beautiful with excellent character development. Many passages made me pause to savor his words. I didn't really care about the political maneuverings, which slowed the story down for me a bit, and I have a lot of difficulty understanding sports culture/rivalries. Even so, Backman delivers a poignant read that will satisfy his many fans.

*Publication date June 5, 2018
* I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,740 reviews2,266 followers
September 9, 2022

”In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal

“The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And coldcocked Buddy on his follow through
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
'Cause the last thing he saw
was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light

-- Hit Somebody!(The Hockey Song), Songwriters: Warren Zevon / Mitchell David Albom

”It’s going to be someone’s fault”

”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 each other is so easy that it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”

There is no anonymity in Beartown for the people who live there. Everybody knows not only each other’s names, but also what they do, who their parents, or children, bosses, coworkers are, how many generations their families have lived there. They know who is trouble, and those who run the town. There is no hiding their flaws, their secrets, or the secret of who they really are. Not forever, anyway. People are born there, very few move away, but it is even more rare for someone to move to there.

Beartown is Hockey. The lives of those who reside there celebrate this, their lives revolve around it, the games, the practices, it is where they belong. Even the conflict between Beartown and Hed, the neighboring town that views Beartown as being inferior. A case of the haves vs the have-nots, but throw in some politicians with questionable motives and things threaten to become volatile. As the town sees its way of life – hockey - being threatened, as they come to terms with the possibility of their hometown hockey team being disbanded unless something changes, their fears and pain unravel for us to see.

And then, a potential new coach, a surprising choice, surely, and a new team will have to be formed, so many players lost to Hed, already. But will they be able to really form a team, bond together as they will need to do, in order to win?

If you’ve read Backman’s Beartown, then you’re familiar with this town, and most of the people who live there, but some new characters are introduced, as well. Peter and Kira Andersson, their children Maya, 16, and Leo, 12. Benji, who has some secrets to share, and Bobo and Amat, then there’s Ana who is best friends with Maya, and Vidar, who has a short fuse, but also a protective love of his brother, Teemu. The parents are struggling with their own problems and their children’s, and these young people, struggling to figure out who they are under all the expectations of the parents, the school and the town. Maybe they will eventually find out what they’re made of.

This wasn’t the kind of book where I instantly fell into the pages and was Calgon’d away, it crept up on me slowly, stealing a little bit more of my heart away as I read on, but I was still interested, just not living inside the story – yet – but soon enough I was wishing there were more pages ahead. I loved how introspective this was, how we learn the story of this town and the people through their thoughts and feelings, their frustrations, their concerns, the hurt and shame and anger some carry with them. I loved, love, this town and these people, loved their loyalty to this place and when it came down to it, their loyalty to each other. I hurt when they hurt, and rooted them on in their journeys.

”Bang. Bang. Bang-bang-bang.”

Published: 05 JUN 2018

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
486 reviews1,356 followers
November 4, 2022
It’s been a few years since I’ve read Beartown. When the “triquel” came out, I knew I had to move the sequel up.
It all came back to me in a flurry. The loveable tough characters, the hockey culture; the good in the hood; the bad in the Hed. The brokenness of the team and the townspeople, given the history in the last story. It continues its destructive path.
Backman’s flawless writing is stunning as usual.
How he takes you in, wraps these characters around you and you are them. And then it’s Us against You.

If you haven't read Beartown, you should.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
695 reviews1,073 followers
January 23, 2019
"The truth about most people is as simple as it is unbearable; we rarely want what is best for everyone; we mostly want what's best for ourselves."

Thoroughly enjoyed my return to Beartown in this sequel. I didn't love it quite as much as the first book, but I loved seeing all my favourite characters again - Benji, Ana, Maya, Peter, Kira, Leo, Ramona, Sune and so many more.
Beartown is reeling after the events of book 1. Violence is still rife, and the hatred between Beartown and its neighbour Hed has never been worse.
As Beartown attempts to raise its hockey team from the ashes, a politician is new in town, ruffling a lot of feathers and making changes the others won't like.

"The complicated thing about good and bad people alike is that most of us can be both at the same time."

When a new secret is revealed, the town's hidden prejudices are brought to light and we get to see how the locals will react.
Backman has a gift for portraying so many different characters with different voices and making us feel for every single one, flaws and all.
I think I might try some of Backman's other novels now as well.

"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."
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,135 followers
May 11, 2018
4+ Stars

No hockey in BEARTOWN? It just can't be!

We all know hockey is an addiction in this small failing community....the only thing really, except for snow, icy roads and a thick (sometimes dangerous) forest where one can hide....or discover secrets. It's still a hard life hereabouts....harder for some after the scandal....it affected so many....some took their revenge....others are still hurting....and some so burned with hatred, they now turn to violence.

In the sequel, US AGAINST YOU Fredrik Backman delves way down deep into the soul of many a character here revealing shortcomings and attributes, hopes and dreams, loves and losses, and, of course, a relationship with a town in which they are so proud....a hockey town that must survive....no matter what!

Backman, with his gift of gab, entices and teases the reader most deceptively at every turn in this second offering bringing forth many oh no it can't be moments for the reader as he describes burning buildings, lurking men in black jackets, heated confrontations and trickery from politicians that weigh heavy on some.

US AGAINST YOU (for me) was not as emotionally addictive as BEARTOWN. It was written in sort of a disjointed open-ended vein that often left me wanting to know now what was about to erupt. I also wanted to know exactly what happened to one character who left early on and another who takes off in the end....but perhaps that is a story for another time.

A great story....Yep! A worthwhile read....Absolutely! US AGAINST YOU has only left me wanting more Backman.

So..........do come back to BEARTOWN and visit your favorite characters (oh Benji)....see what some of them do (oh my) and how the new ones fit in (ha!) as BEARTOWN struggles for survival.

Many Thanks to Atria Books/Simon & Schuster for the widget and early reading opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite authors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Debbie W..
724 reviews485 followers
December 23, 2022
Why I chose to listen to this audiobook:
1. because Fredrik Backman wrote it! Need I say more?
2. I just finished reading Beartown. Luckily, this audiobook sequel was available for me to borrow; and,
3. December 2022 is my "Winter/Christmas Month".

1. once again, author Fredrik Backman is a masterful writer when it comes to the human psyche! His characters could be you and me! They are so believable - this is how we act, how we speak, how we think! He captures human nature at its highest and at its lowest;
2. his unique cadence kept me riveted throughout; and,
3. I felt so connected to this atmospheric read! Beartown could be a community in northeastern Alberta, on the edge of the boreal forest with four months of verdant summer and the rest of the year under a blanket of snow and frigid cold while we go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, all with a junior hockey league in our backyard!

Overall Thoughts:
This story could happen in any small town! Heart-wrenchingly triumphant and shameful!
Looking forward to checking out Book #3 The Winners.

Most definitely for fans of Fredrik Backman and/or his book Beartown!
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