Review – The Scandal by Fredrik Backman

My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

ABOUT THE BOOK

412sODnbpzL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_‘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.’

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. 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?

WHAT I THOUGHT

The Scandal is one big book, with one big heart, asking one big question – “whose side would you be on?”

“We are the bears.  We are the bears from Beartown” is a chant you will often hear coming from the growling faces of locals, and in particular those obsessed with ice hockey, which is practically the entire population of Beartown.  Ice hockey is a central theme throughout, but it isn’t a sport I have ever really had much interest in.  However I now love the idea of this wild game.  I am desperate to go watch it and witness the mind-blowing atmosphere created by the players and fans for myself.

Beartown is a little town on the brink of financial ruin but the junior ice hockey team have the chance to turn that around as they face a final in a tournament.  This is until one girl decides to tell the truth which changes the course of many people’s lives forever.  It wasn’t an easy decision for her to make as she knows that many people will accuse her family of being jealous and making up vicious lies.  My heart was with this girl until the end, as we, as the reader, know what happened but can also understand why many of the locals choose not to believe.

Following this massive allegation there is now a divide in Beartown.  We witness people turn against each other and the struggles the parents of the girl, and the girl herself, face in order to get justice.  It is tough to see, as all this small community seem to be doing is protecting a boy guilty of an awful crime.

There are so many layers to this perfect, awe-inspiring novel.  It is one you could say is the male companion to many stories written by Jodi Picoult.  We learn so much from each individual character and see relationships develop, power struggles take place and see firsthand what little hope there is left in this small town.  It is structured beautifully and even the tiniest of details add to the emotions created in this page-turning, coming of age tale.  I wept with those ice hockey boys, laughed with them and was horrified by some of their stupidity.  But it has captured my heart and this is a story I will struggle to forget.

The ending was original.  I savoured how each paragraph of those last few pages flitted between current time and ten years into the future.  It was the perfect finish to a truly astounding novel.  Thank you to Netgalley and Michael Joseph (Penguin) for an e-copy of The Scandal in return for my honest opinion.  I will now be going out and buying a hard copy for my bookshelf as I loved it that much.

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