Review: The Scandal/ Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The ScandalPeople say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


I read this book a week ago and I can still remember how lost I felt when I got to the last page. I was sad, fighting back tears wondering how I was supposed to just move on and read another book after this one. I thought I knew how it felt to experience a book hangover but I can’t remember the last time I felt this way.

The Scandal is the story about a small, hockey town called Beartown. This town loves hockey so much. The residents live for the game. Their passion for hockey knows no bound. This is evident right from the beginning of the story. The author introduces the characters, the town and their love for hockey. Everyone in the town is touched by hockey. Simply put, Beartown is a hockey town!

The story is narrated through multiple characters. I admit, at first I was fazed by all the characters. At some point, I groaned to myself ‘not another narrator!’ However, I soon started following the story and was able to appreciate how masterfully the author jumped from one narrator to another and still managed to make the story flow easily. I wasn’t confused trying to keep up with the narrative.

This book gave me the feels!  My initial plan was to read it slowly over a week. I wanted to prolong the experience. However, I was soon held captive by the story and all my plans went out of the window. I ended up devouring this in just a few hours.  The book made me smile but it also really broke my heart and made me dislike small towns at some point. Nevertheless, I was captivated by the tale and weirdly fascinated by the town even when it made me want to never live there. I admired the residents love for their town and the game. In many ways, this book reminded me of Friday Night Lights. Reading it, I found myself thinking of FNL although the storylines are not exactly the same. In my mind though, characters like Tim Riggins and Benji look the same.  I liked how similar the books are in terms of the small town settings, memorable characters and passion for their sport.

I can’t recommend this book enough. The Scandal is a wonderful, moving story with some of the most memorable characters that I have encountered. I have no doubt that this is one of the titles that I will be listing the next time someone asks me about my favourite books of all time.


I would like to sincerely thank Renee (its book talk) and Annie (The Misstery) for my copy of this book. Thanks to these wonderful ladies, this book has travelled across three continents. Book bloggers are amazing!


29 thoughts on “Review: The Scandal/ Beartown by Fredrik Backman

  1. Book bloggers are the best! I love books with all the feels but I’m still on the fence about the sports thing.. I tend to avoid all books that include sports because euhm I just don’t care.. but when you say you had such a book hangover.. I might have to think again! Great review!

    1. I totally get what you mean. I knew nothing about hockey before reading this book and now I only learned one new word, hockey pucks lol. Although sports is at heart of the story, its more in the background. The narrative focuses on the characters and how hockey affects their lives. I think there were only two games in the entire book so don’t let the sports aspect discourage you from reading it. This was more about a small hockey town and less about the actual game.

      I really hope that you will decide to read it Inge. Thank you 🙂

    2. I read this for my reading challenge “a book involving sport” and have no regrets. It’s more about the people and families and how sport affected them. I still consider this my favourite for 2018.

    1. And it was my first book mail too. I was so happy to receive the book.

      Thank you Nikola. I have read two of his titles, A Man Called Ove and now, The Scandal. His writing is wonderful. I hope that you will enjoy his books when you get the chance 🙂

  2. I’ve yet to read any of his books but have them all on my TBR! I’m missing out a lot I think! I loved your review so much! I have the audiobook of Beartown, and I think I need to read it soon!

  3. Wonderful review! This one was a slowburner for me, but I absolutely loved the second half of the book. I can’t wait to read Us Against You now!

    1. OMG I didn’t know about the sequel. I have just checked it out on goodreads after reading your comment. I can’t wait to read it.The first reviews look great so it seems that it will be another hit. Thanks for mentioning the book.

      1. I didn’t know at first either! They don’t allow me to request an ARC, but I’m definitely getting a copy when it’s published. Fingers crossed it will be as good as the first!

    1. wow, Having read it, I totally get why it was your favorite. Its still early in 2018 but I already think that it will be mine too for this year or at least top 3. I have just found out about the sequel. I can’t wait to read it 🙂

    1. hahaha I am glad that it ended up being so amazing. Now its on my list of favorites and every time I see it on my shelf, I am reminded of the trip that it took to get to me 🙂 I can’t wait for you to read it so that we can compare notes 🙂

  4. My favourite read of this year so far, and it will be hard to top it 😀
    I come from a small town and could relate on multiple levels, but the characters were all so brilliantly written.

    1. My favourite too and like you, I think that this will be so hard to top.

      I have always been curious about small towns. I like the idea of close knit communities where everyone knows everyone although some books have me convinced that is not always a good thing 😀

  5. Wow! The books sure travelled far 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the read Diana! I haven’t read any books by this author yet but they are on my TBR. I will have to add Scandal to the list too 🙂

    1. It really did. From the UK to Spain and then to Kenya 🙂 Thank you Jasmine. This is really a wonderful read so I hope that you will get the chance to read it someday and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did 🙂

  6. Ah, the book hangover! I know the feeling, but it’s been a while since I’ve had one. I have never read Backman but I will one day! Great review! So cool that it traveled such a long way.

    1. Thank you Laila. I hope that you will enjoy Backman’s books when you get the chance. I have read A Man Called Ove and now The Scandal and he is brilliant. And yes, this book came quite a long way 🙂

  7. Okay, now I definitely need to read this Diana! Fantastic review as always. I have to admit I was a bit put off by the hockey aspect but it seems to be so much more than just sports!

    1. The book is definitely not focused on the sports but more on the characters in the small town. Its such a wonderful read so I hope that you will give it a try 🙂

  8. Wow Diana!! What an excellent review!! At first I was confused thinking these were two separate books because I’d never seen The Scandal cover before. Normally I skip right over books involving sports because I’m not a sports fan, but since you said this is one of your favorites, and it clearly had an immense effect on you, I’d consider it. Thanks for the fantastic review.

    (As you can see I’m quite behind on my blogging friends’ review posts. I’d marked this one because I didn’t want to forget to go back and read it. So busy!!)

    1. Thanks for reading my review, Laurie. I enjoy our interactions 🙂

      This is a fantastic read. I knew nothing about hockey prior to reading this book. Now I know what hockey pucks means lol. The book is definitely more about the people and the scandal. Hockey is not very much detailed so don’t let the sports bit scare you off this one.

      Thank you 🙂

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