Title: Us Against You
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Literary | Sports
Synopsis: A small community tucked deep in the forest, Beartown is home to tough, hardworking people who don’t expect life to be easy or fair. No matter how difficult times get, they’ve always been able to take pride in their local ice hockey team. So it’s a cruel blow when they hear that Beartown ice hockey might 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 the neighboring town of Hed, take in that fact. As the tension mounts between the two adversaries, a newcomer arrives who gives Beartown hockey a surprising new coach and a chance at a comeback.
Soon a team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; always dutiful and eager-to-please Bobo; 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 town’s enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big game approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt intensifies. By the time the last goal is scored, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after everything, the game they love can ever return to something as simple and innocent as a field of ice, two nets, and two teams. Us against you.
My Thoughts: In my review of Backman’s BEARTOWN I described the book as POWERFUL and when the sequel US AGAINST YOU came out I questioned whether it could stand up to its predecessor. I can unequivocally say Backman pulled it off. This book is all about STRENGTH. It picks up where Beartown left off with the town reeling in the traumatic aftermath that left a sharp divide in the community. We are plunked into an even darker Beartown injected with a political agenda, death and the emotional force of friendships, marriage, discrimination, rivalry and violence. I was so, so happy to see my favorite characters return: Kira, Maya, Benji and Amat – it’s like visiting old friends.
I really hope there is a third book in this series that can break my heart and mend it all over again. You do not have to love hockey or even like it to read these books – that’s what makes Backman masterful in his writing. I strongly recommend you read Beartown first so you can become familiar with the setting and cast of characters – some you will love and others you will hate.