Book Review: Beartown

Beartown

 

Beartown is the third Fredrik Backman book that I have read, and it did not disappoint. I also read A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. Fredrik Backman is quickly becoming a favorite. His stories always have to do with the rising of an underdog or someone who seems to be beat. And I just love it. Although his books have heavier themes, they are ultimately uplifting through this beating of the odds.

 

Beartown is a hockey town. It is located in the middle of nowhere in the forest. It is cold and snowy most of the time. The town used to be more thriving, but businesses closed and people moved away. And then, all the town had left was hockey.

 

Beartown follows the story of several of the residents of Beartown during a pivotal time for the town. The junior hockey team is fighting its way to the championship game, which could change the town by bringing the economy of the town back to life. Winning the championship could mean more jobs, more money and a hockey school in town, which is a lot of pressure to put on a group of high school boys.

 

After the semi-final game, a violent act turned the town upside down, and leaves the town picking sides. Things get really ugly, accusations are made, and the town is really left questioning their beliefs and loyalty.

 

Beartown is about the hope of a town, and what happens when secrets tear that town apart. It is also about what happens when one person stands up and fights. It is also a coming of age story, which I always enjoy, and how one act can cause a child (and a group of children) to grow up overnight.

 

Although it was really good, Beartown was really different from A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. Both of those has a lot of humor and really quirky characters. There were definitely sad and serious elements to them but there was also a lot of humor, especially through the odd characters. Beartown lacked that humor and quirkiness that the others had. I am not saying that it wasn’t just as good, it was just really different from the others. And I also get that for the story he wanted to tell, that humor wouldn’t have been appropriate.

 

I thought this was such an amazingly timely book, given things that are currently going on. And something that might be an important book for parents and teens to read. As a woman, it made me feel really angry.

 

But anyway, it was really good and I highly recommend all three of his books.

Book Review: Tuesday Nights in 1980

Tuesday Nights In 1980

 

I recently finished reading Tuesday Nights in 1980. I happened to see it at Target, and I remembered seeing someone post that they really liked it (I think it was Grace from The Stripe). So I decided to give it a try. I had never heard of it before, but I typically like a lot of the same books that she does, so why not? I didn’t even read the back.

 

I wouldn’t say this would be my typical read, kind of like The Alice Network (although that one was even less typical). But I really enjoyed it. I have always thought of myself of having a pretty broad range when it comes to picking books, but I think I need to be even broader since I have now read two non-typical books for me back to back and really enjoyed them both.

 

Tuesday Nights in 1980 centers around the art scene in SoHo in New York City in 1980. It really focuses on three main characters. Engales is an unknown painter from Buenos Aires, who left his sister there during a war and is trying to forget his past. Lucy is has recently moved from a small town to New York and wants to be around the artists (but isn’t an artist). James Bennett is an art critic who experiences things differently than most people – certain things make him see colors (his wife is red) or smell things that aren’t really there, which is why his reviews are so different and becoming so popular. The book begins on New Year’s Eve in 1979, when all three of the main characters’ world intersect. When two unrelated life altering tragedies occur, Engales, James and Lucy must figure out how to pick up the pieces and navigate their new existences while also figuring out how these tragedies affect their relationship with art.

 

The thing I really loved about this book is the way the three main characters were strangers at the beginning of the book, but they really play a big role in each other’s lives at this time. They are all in the process of trying to find themselves and figure out their place. They are all three a little lost, but these tragedies sort of force their hand to grow and change.

 

Have you read Tuesday Nights In 1980? If not, I would definitely recommend it!

 

Have you read anything really good lately? I am always looking for suggestions!

Book Review: The Alice Network

The Alice Network

 

I just finished another great book! I was surprised that I really enjoyed The Alice Network. This isn’t normally the kind of book I would read. It is historical fiction, and that really isn’t my thing. That is really more of Charlie’s type of book. To be honest, the only reason I picked it up was because Reese Witherspoon chose it for her bookclub pick a few months ago. I have liked other books that she has either talked about or recommended, so I decided to give this one a try.

 

The Alice Network is two parallel stories – one is just after World War II in 1947. Charlie is in college, unwed and pregnant, when she embarks on a journey to find her lost French cousin Rose. Rose has not been heard from since before the war was over, and even though her parents believe she is dead, Charlie is convinced she is alive.

 

The other story is during World War I in 1915. Eve, an English file girl with a stutter,  is recruited to join a network of female spies (called The Alice Network) in France. She is sent to Lille, which is occupied by the Germans and work for the leader of the Alice Network.

 

Thirty years later, trying to forget the horrors of war and haunted by her guilt, Eve spends her days drunk and hiding away in her London home. That is, until Charlie comes knocking at her door looking for answers that leads them both on a hunt for the truth.

 

Even though it is normally not my thing, I could not put down The Alice Network. It took me about a week to read it, but only because I kept having to go to work! I couldn’t wait to get home and pick it back up. It was so well written, and I loved the way the two stories intertwined. After I finished, I read the afterward that parts of the book were based on real events and people, which made it even more interesting.

 

Even if historical fiction isn’t your thing, I highly recommend this book and think you should give it a try. I am not going to run out and read other historical fiction, but I really, really enjoyed this one!

Book Review: The Ramblers

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Are you looking for a good summer read? I think this book should definitely be considered.

The Ramblers takes place in New York City and is told from 3 different points of view. All three are somewhat lost souls – they have all had really significant things happen to them, and none of them have really been able to move on.

Clio is an ornithologist (she studies birds), and is in a somewhat new relationship that is turning serious. She has some commitment issues and is still dealing with her dysfunctional childhood and the death of her mother. Smith is Clio’s best friend. She is a professional organizer, and she is trying to survive her younger sister’s wedding while still processing her own broken engagement.  Tate is a former school mate of Clio and Smith’s, and he has just returned to the city after having his own heart broken.

 

The Ramblers was really good and really well written. It is about love, loss, grief, friendship and hope. I loved that the characters were all dealing with their own form of loss, and all trying to process it and pick up the pieces. And it takes place in one week, Thanksgiving week, which makes it even more interesting.

Book Review: The Nest

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As soon as I saw The Nest, I wanted to read it. Truth – it was because of the awesome cover. I didn’t even know what it was about, which really tells you how important book covers are to me.

And the inside of the book did not disappoint.

The Plumbs are extremely dysfunctional.  In fact, they barely speak to each other. But the one thing they have in common is the four Plumb siblings – Leo, Bea, Jack and Melody – have all been anxiously awaiting the day they would receive their trust fund (The Nest). Though their father died years ago, he set it up so that when the youngest Melody turned 40, they would all receive their shares.

But when the oldest Leo gets into trouble (think drunk driving with a young woman who isn’t his wife, a hefty payoff and a trip to rehab), their mother decides to spend the Nest on aiding Leo, which does not please the other siblings. The three other siblings plead that Leo repay them, though he claims he doesn’t have the money. Two of the four Plumbs really need the money, and the other is really only wanting Leo’s approval.

The Nest is really funny and smart and a fast read. It is a really interesting look at the dynamics of this super dysfunctional family, and the ways that the one brother’s actions really impact the other 3 siblings (in more ways than just the money).

 

I highly recommend The Nest. I know it sounds like it is all about the money, but it really isn’t.