A review of a Fredrik Backman book in the Green Valley News (Arizona) said " Backman is the Dickens of our age, and though you'll cry, your heart is safe in his hands. "
Never is that more true than with Us Against You. It is an emotional roller coaster as the reader identifies with the angst, the pity, the joy, the "Us Against You" mentality which we too easily see and endure today. Just when you think Fredrik Backman can't or won't hurt us again, can't or won't make us ever soar again, he does.
There are so many wonderful, profound passages in Us Against You I couldn't keep up with my slips of paper marking them all.
"What are we prepared to do for our children at that moment? What aren't we prepared to do?
But the years whistle past. Fathers need to live in the moment; general managers are never allowed to. Fathers need to seize the day, because childhoods are like soap bubbles; you only get a few seconds to enjoy them."
"Deep down inside most of us would like all stories to be simple, because we want real life to be like that, too. But communities are like ice, not water. They don't suddenly flow in s new direction because you ask them to, they change inch by inch, like glaciers. Sometimes they don't move at all."
Us Against You is the follow-up to Beartown that NEEDED to be written.
"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 has been a story about ice rinks and all the hearts that beat in and around them. About people and sports and how sometimes they take turns carrying each other. About us, dreaming and fighting. Some have fallen in love and some have been destroyed; we've had good days and some very bad ones. Beartown has cheered but it has also started to smolder. Things were heading toward a terrible explosion.
A few girls made us proud, a few boys made us great. A car drove too fast through the night. We'll say it was a road accident, but accidents are quirks of fate, and we will know that we could have prevented this one. This one will be someone else's fault, Many peoples fault. Our fault."
Beartown left us uncomfortable; it left us unsettled in our sadness. Us Against You validates our sadness and shows us the painful yet somehow hopeful way out, the way we all survive:
And the sun rises. Tomorrow, again.
I'm not entirely sure if we need a Beartown 3, but we'll discover we absolutely did need one if Fredrik Backman blesses us with another.
Everyone gets a stick. Two nets. Two teams. Us against you.
5 stars, wishing there were more to grant.