Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You.jpg

Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman
448 pages
Atria (June 5, 2018)
Advance copy provided by publisher

During training for my line of work, I had a supervisor who was notorious for leaning back in his chair, with an air of nonchalance, as we took turns sharing cases we'd struggled with; suddenly, and without warning, he would casually impart a few words, maybe a complete sentence, of the type of wisdom I'll likely never possess. We named these moments "zingers." Fredrik Backman knows how to lay down a zinger. 

Everything has a breaking point and even though people always say that “a joy shared is a joy doubled,” we seem to insist on believing that the opposite is true of sorrow. Perhaps that isn’t actually the case. Two drowning people with lead weights around their ankles may not be each other’s salvation if they hold hands, they’d just sink twice as fast.

If you haven't read Beartown, you could read Us Against You without it; however, I wouldn't recommend this approach. Thankfully, for those of us with limited book memory, Backman weaves the narrative from Beartown into this second installment but, without that foundation, you'll miss out on so many of the details that create such a powerful backdrop. 

People driving through say that Beartown doesn’t live for anything but hockey, and some days they may be right. Sometimes perhaps people have to be allowed to have something to live for in order to survive everything else.

Backman picks up where he left off; I don't want to spoil anything for those of you who have not yet experienced the events that occurred in Beartown but, suffice it to say, those of you who thought the story wrapped up nicely are in for a treat. There's always more to the story, right? Always. 

They used to be so in love that they hungered for each other, her dad’s fingertips brushing her mom’s bangs, her mom who could raise the hairs on her dad’s arms with a single glance. Children have a purely biological reaction against their parents’ love for each other, but when it disappears they hate themselves.

The writing will hit you unexpectedly, like a wayward puck, just as it did in Beartown; once again, I've highlighted numerous passages and found myself pausing to reread sentences and sections over and over to allow them to fully sink in. Even though you'll want to fly through it, I'll hope you'll savor every word. As I have stated on so many occasions about its predecessor, Us Against You is not a story about hockey; it's about all of us. 

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