Read it. Love it. Remember it. The Scandal.
‘Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there.’ Beartown is a small town in a large Swedish forest. For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together – or pulls them apart. Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. Everyone can feel the excitement. Change is in the air and a bright new future is just around the corner. Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear. With the town’s future at stake, no one can stand by or stay silent. Everyone is on one side or the other.
Which side would you be on?
Sometimes you read a book and you can thoroughly enjoy it but it takes a special book to work its way into your heart – The Scandal is one of those books – captivating, heartfelt, extremely well written – this novel will stay with me for a long time, if not forever.
The Scandal is set in a small Swedish town and conveys brilliantly that small town vibe. Reading books set in a small, isolated town has never been something I especially seek out but maybe it should be. This small-town feel creates this level of intimacy that allows you to get to know the characters really well. You begin to know how they’ll act and react, however, this doesn’t mean you can predict the events in this novel but that you can hazard a guess where the character’s loyalties will lie when the scandal breaks. And wow, the scandal is a shocker, one I never saw coming and involved characters I didn’t think it would.
Beartown’s only hope for survival lies in their love of hockey, if their team can win the league, maybe people will invest in Beartown. I know next to nothing about hockey which is okay because, although the town is connected through their love of the sport, you’re not flooded with a play by play account of game after game. Instead, Backman shows you the nature of the people’s characters, their hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, history, secrets, everything, through the towns uniting force – their love of hockey.
While this is an extremely well written and detailed novel, so much is said in what isn’t written – instead of writing a paragraph, Backman will, for example, explain the look one character gives another, and because you have come to know the characters so well, you will instantly know what that look conveys, what is being said even though it isn’t written in words – that’s the power of this novel.
As with most well-rounded novels, you have your likeable and unlikable characters, you also see some amazing friendships. Living in a small town can strengthen relationships but it can also tear them apart!
I highly recommend The Scandal, I’m labelling it a 2017 must read.