Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Winners

The Winners
  The Winners
Author:  Fredrik Backman
Publication Information:  Atria Books. 2022. 688 pages.
ISBN:  1982112794 / 978-1982112790

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Everyone who knew Benjamin Ovich, particularly those of us who knew him well enough to call him Benji, probably knew deep down that he was never the sort of person who would get a happy ending."

Favorite Quote:  "The end of life is as unstoppable as its beginning, we can't stop the first and last breaths we take any more than we can stop the wind."

The Winners is book three in a trilogy. Beartown introduces us to the town bearing that name. Having read two other Fredrik Backman books, I was still hesitant because the book centers around field hockey, a sport of which I have little knowledge and in which I have little interest. I read it based on the author's other books and love it. That book becomes about the question about how far a person, a set of people, or a town will go to put club above all. What will be the price for putting club first? Will that be a price that everyone is willing to pay or will someone stand up for what is right?

Us Against You becomes about the politics and economics of the sport. It seems to mirror the paradigms on a global scale as The personal, individual catastrophic impact of decisions are subsumed in the broader political discussions getting the headlines.

The Winners brings the book back to the people. It is about the young people of Beartown who, each in their own way, comes home. Some come willingly. Some are forced back home. The story winds back to the beginning that started it all. That is part of my issue. Much background is re-explained in this third book. Perhaps, it is intended that it can be read alone without having read book one and two. If I was that reader, perhaps my reaction would be different. However, I am not that reader. I have read both books. As such, the retelling of some of book 1 and 2 goes beyond what I need it to be.

The story is told in bits and pieces and different perspectives. At almost 700 pages, it becomes challenging to follow the continued staccato tone from Us Against You and to stay engaged with the characters that I once say good bye to at the end of Beartown. 

The fact that the book begins with the end does not help. "Boys like Benji die young. They die violently." The only question that remains is how the story gets there, and what is the connection of that incident back to the beginning.

I want to love this book for how much I enjoyed Beartown and how much I loved some of the other works by the author. Unfortunately, I enjoyed Us Against You a little less than Beartown, and I find myself even less the reader for The Winners. I will, however, continue to look for Fredrik Backman's books for all the joyful reading experiences his work has added to my life.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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