The Winners

Atria. Sept. 2022. 688p. tr. from Swedish by Neil Smith. ISBN 9781982112790. $28.99. F
Swedish author Backman concludes a trilogy begun in 2016 with Beartown that continues the story of the residents of two rival hockey towns, Hed and Beartown. Everyone in the two rival communities has been burdened by a pivotal event two years previous, the rape of 15-year-old Maya Andersson by star hockey player Kevin Erdahl. Maya disappears into a big city to keep from only being a someone that something happened to, but now she returns for a funeral. Maya’s father, Peter, once a star NHL player and now a general manager for the Beartown team, finds himself embroiled in a scandal from which his lawyer wife Kira must rescue him. Meanwhile, corrupt politicians, who are scrambling up the local power ladder with their money laundering, bribes, and sneaky private deals, keep the rivalries at a white-hot temperature to their advantage. Matteo, a lonely, almost invisible boy with no loyalties, no friends, and revenge in his heart, tips the balance with a pistol bartered for stolen rifles. Thereafter, the communities come together to mourn as walls are breached, solid friendships formed, and new heroes emerge.
VERDICT Backman leaves no emotion unturned, sweeping up the reader in riveting family dramas that jump the boundaries of hockey-town rivalries. Another winner.
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