With each new book, Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie Was Here and Beartown, manages to raise the stakes of exceptionalism. Through Backman's astute examination of humanity, Us Against You will elicit snickers and full-blown belly laughs. It will rip out hearts, then replace them stronger than before. Most of all, it is sure to prompt readers to examine their lives in order to be better people, if only in microscopic ways.
Peter, the local hockey club's general manager, was forced to make an unimaginable decision at the conclusion of Beartown. The fallout from that decision opens Us Against You: the town's hockey program is dangerously close to bankruptcy; its demise appears inevitable. That is, until an anonymous new sponsor offers to save the team--with certain stipulations.
Ana, a teenager who lives with her father in Beartown, feels more comfortable in the forest than anywhere else. She regularly gives of herself, but in a moment of weakness triggered by hurt and embarrassment, Ana makes a choice that throws the town into violent turmoil. Meanwhile, Richard Theo is a politician who presents himself as an advocate for his constituents but is ultimately and deceitfully advancing his own agenda.
Backman juggles these characters and more as people battle to bring together the Beartown hockey A-team. His balancing act is masterfully executed with empathy, humor and ingenuity, emphasized by the pitch-perfect portrait of a tired, crumbling small town. Fans of Backman will not be disappointed. His work continues to amaze and captivate, enlighten and thrill. Those unfamiliar with his novels need to pick them up posthaste; Us Against You is a perfect one to grab. --Jen Forbus, freelancer