“The game is simple: everyone gets a stick, there are two nets, two teams.
Us against you.”
Last year I read “Beartown“. It was phenomenal, so I was super excited to learn that there was going to be a sequel. Well folks, this time the sequel surpassed the first. WOW!
I don’t really even like hockey, but, like Beartown, it is much more than a book about hockey. It is a book about people, about a town, about the world.
I strongly urge anyone who is entertaining the idea of reading “Us against you” to read “Beartown” first. In Beartown you will come to love the town and its inhabitants. In “Us against you” the love will swell enough to break your heart.
Beartown is recovering from the scandal that rocked the town to its very foundations. Some people were more affected by the scandal than others, yet all bear the brunt of what happened.
“How long can you stay in a place that keeps trying to reject you like a hostile virus?”
We reunite with the Andersson family, Peter, Kira, Maya, and Leo. This family has been broken by the events in the previous book. Now they are each struggling to live – to put one foot in front of the other, to soldier on.
Many more beloved and familiar characters make a second appearance: Amat, Benji, Sune, and Ramona to name just a few.
“The complicated thing about good and bad people alike is that most of us can be both at the same time.”
We meet new characters that will write indelibly on our hearts. Alicia, a four-and-a-half year old who is in love with hockey. Bobo, a young man who learns the lessons taught by loss and responsibility. The ‘Pack’, a group of hooligans with hearts of gold hidden behind a violent reputation. A young man named Vidar who loves as strongly as his fists have become.
We experience the hurts and betrayals of these characters in such a profound way that it feels personal.
“Love is like leadership. Asking for it doesn’t help.”
With myriad themes running throughout this novel, Backman does what very few authors can claim to do. He makes you CARE about each and every character (even the hooligans and the corrupt politicians). He makes wise and astute observations about parenting, friendship, responsibility, loss, loyalty, sacrifice, revenge, power, bureaucracy, leadership, teamwork, violence, respect, courage, consequences, and the powerful feeling of ‘belonging’. Not bad for one novel.
With concise sentences Backman turns just a few words into moving and impactful observations. This is a novel peopled by wonderful characters. I was reluctant to finish the book as it would mean I would have to leave Beartown…
I really cannot recommend “Us against you” highly enough.
Whenever I read a book, I always highlight my favourite passages. With Backman books, I tend to get carried away. Here are just some of my favorite quotes from “Us against you”
“What does it take to be a good parent? Not much. Just everything. Absolutely everything.”
“Fathers need to seize the day, because childhoods are like soap-bubbles, you only get a few seconds to enjoy them.”
“Unfairness is a far more natural state in the world than fairness.”
“The path back to normal life is indescribably long once death has swept the feet out from under those of us who are left.”
“The worst thing we know about other people is that we’re dependent upon them. That their actions affect our lives.”
“People will always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth”.
“Many of our worst deed are the result of us never wanting to admit that we’re wrong.”
“A great deal is expected of anyone who’s been given a lot.”
“It’s hard to care about people. Exhausting, in fact, because empathy is a complicated thing. It requires us to accept that everyone else’s lives are also going on the whole time.”
“You can always be absolutely certain of one thing when it comes to power: no one who gets their hands on it ever lets go of it voluntarily.”
“Our spontaneous reactions are rarely our proudest moments.”
“Exclusion is a form of exhaustion that eats its way into your skeleton.”
Fredrik Backman is a Swedish columnist, blogger and writer of the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries, in more than twenty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.