Title: The Scandal
Alternative Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrick Backman
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Drama, Community
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
No one can stand by or stay silent. You’re on one side or another.
Which side will you find yourself on?
‘The Scandal‘ is what ‘Beartown‘ was called here when I bought it in hardback in 2017. Personally I prefer the original name and am scratching my head as to why either the publishers or author (or both) felt the need to change it as ‘The Scandal‘ sounds tackier and is only really relevant to half the book whereas the title ‘Beartown‘ is more apt as it focuses on the community theme of this book.
I had heard nothing but the highest of praise for this novel from multiple people, therefore I was expecting great things…
But wow did those expectations fall flat on their face because wow I did not like this at all!!!
To me it was nothing more than a piece of overblown, overwrought drama.
Okay I can see why people might like how this small community closes ranks around this scandal but I’ve read better books about communities. Books that find a harmony of prose from the many voices within a town… (e.g. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor)
This was clunky. It was a book that had one or two moving quotes but most of the ideas behind the prose felt stale to me.
Without wishing to spoil the plot I have also read much better books about the events behind the scandal, about justice, vengeance…
To use a favourite sports term this was very much a book of two halves.
The first half made me want to stab myself in the eyeball from the tedium. And the second, while it certainly picked up the pace, still petered out into a sort of maudlin analysis of the human condition.
And that ending….
*eye FREAKING roll*
Nope. No and nope again
Absolutely not something I would recommend as it felt so painful to read in my opinion.