The Winners: A Novel (Beartown Series)
by Fredrik Backman
Hardcover- $26.09

A breathtaking new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anxious People and A Man Called Ove, The Winners returns to the ...

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  "Backman writes about life at its core!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 08/04/22

Winners, Fredrick Backman
I have always loved reading books by this author because of his final message which is always filled with hope, in spite of the tricks life often plays on us. This one, however, gave me doubts about whether or not that would happen, since it brought me to such height and depths of emotion, that reading it, I found I thought I might lose hope. How could such needless tragedy take place again and again? This book felt almost too close to reality, at times. For isn’t that the source of the stress we experience daily, the constant occurrence of unexplained, unnecessary, unwanted fury and violence for which we seem always unprepared and surprised? Backman does pull hope from the jaws of despair, finally, and that is what saved the book for me.
It took me a long time to read this novel because I kept anticipating that something bad was going to happen and after reading the first two books, these characters had become family. I did not want to feel the pain of their sorrows with such immediacy, and with such force as Backman packs very strong feelings into each sentence and description. The scenes seemed so real and full of the emotions the characters were feeling, that I identified with each of their traumas and joys. Each of their problems became my own to solve. In this book, I did not get an equal amount of the hopefulness, I felt in the others, at first. This one played out more intensity, until the end.
So many of the characters were motivated by pure vengeance and the quest for power, without thinking through the reasons or consequences of their actions beforehand. This resulted in so much unnecessary destruction, threats, wasted lives, and negative behavior. In the other books, I always felt that there was an equal or better force fighting the forces of evil in his previous books, but in this book, the forces of evil won so often, that the brutality was palpable, building the tension within me to almost unbearable levels. Was this a representation of our real world? Are we really so thoughtless when it comes to how we treat each other? Are we really so self-interested that we will sacrifice each other to save our own face or something material, something far more meaningless than a life? I was left wondering if Tails act of sacrifice, at the end, was enough, was appropriate, was even moral? Did it mean he had learned to respect the rules and the people above his own needs, but what about the others? Did it mean he was still motivated by the need to save the town, regardless of the cost, regardless of the means to the end or to save a good person and repent for his own misdeeds? Oh yes, Backman has truly captured Sir Walter Scott’s tangled web that we weave, when first we practice to deceive, in this series of books.
The pettiness, immaturity, lying and cheating, adults acting like children, motivated by vengeance, the arrogance and the bullying, the thugs vs the good guys in conflict constantly, the search for someone to hurt or blame, even in the cause of justice seemed cruel, not fair, and all of these emotions and feelings that are deep within each of us is captured by this author. He seems to understand every minute emotional moment perfectly. The book is hypnotic, so you will be compelled to keep reading. Every single word has power. Every human condition will appear at some time and be analyzed for what it really is and what it really means to us. Race, gender, the media, sports, the environment, sex, poverty, fear, shame, guilt, wealth, power, hope, hopelessness, crime, all subjects are fair game as the motivations for actions are deconstructed. Nothing and no one is portrayed as perfect. In the recurrent themes and the bang, bang, bang of the hockey puck, their flaws are exposed, but still, even the worst of the characters is redeemable, as each has some good within them, no matter how bad they seem. I suppose that is the hopefulness at the end of the book, even though it felt overshadowed by so much pain, from natural and unnatural causes.
Hed and Beartown will continue to feud, as real cities continue to have problems, but they will, like all cities and people, repair their damage and move on, as life, too, must go on. This book is not really about hockey, it is about people, real life, friendship, love, how we live, how we die, who we are and who we are not, how we cope and how we don’t, how we respond and how we repent. The yin and the yang are on every page as Backman gives his story life, and as he gives it breath. Each individual character becomes less important than the whole, and it is the survival of the whole that we fight for, in the end. In that purpose is our hope.

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