Chelsea Arnold, circulation assistant at the Palmyra branch of HCPL, penned the following review for your perusal.
Beartown is available as an eBook on OverDrive and Libby. If you do not have an HCPL card, OverDrive offers a free card using your mobile number.
On its face, Beartown is a book about a small town hockey team facing a scandal. However, at its core, Beartown is really about the inanimate things humans will prioritize over people and cling to fiercely when they represent meaning. Beartown doesn’t have much going for it. It’s a small, cold, close-knit mountain town. The opportunities are not plentiful—you either work at the school or you work at the one lone factory. What they do have, though, is one of the most skilled high school hockey teams in the area. Hockey is both this town’s pride and identity. Meaning the town’s source of meaning is placed solely on the backs of teenage boys. Sound like a recipe for disaster? It is. The responsibility of carrying the town brings immense pressure. It also breeds intense narcissism. These young men are hometown heroes. Many of them think they can do anything, because they know the town will in turn go to great lengths to protect them from the consequences of their sins. When the star player commits a heinous act, the town’s claim to fame slips out of grasp, and a team’s passion is upended. In the swirl of emotion, everyone in the town is faced with a moral dilemma: err on the side of justice and compassion, or become animalistic and emotionally unreachable over a high school sport. This book is well-written and held my attention. That said, the plot was predictable and read very much like a ripped from the headlines type of book (think Sandusky, Brock Turner, etc.). I don’t fault it for that because the story that Beartown tells is a story that is extremely prevalent in real life. And if a novel can make someone contemplate a problem that plagues our society, then purpose served.