This book is about so much more than hockey. What starts off as a story about a small village and their hockey team takes an unexpected turn in both character dissension and storyline. Backman exposes the small town mentality of its residents and walks a fine line with his characterization of "crazy hockey parents" that are almost too stereotypical, but because his story is compelling, he gets away with it.
Beartown is universal in topic and appeal—sexism, homophobia, racism, and politics are issues prevalent in every town, anywhere. In Beartown, as the underdogs that represent a community built on hockey, residents are willing to do whatever it takes to make their mark, including covering up a terrible crime against a young girl. The mentality is staggering and mind blowing. It is all too familiar where it is the victim that is the one bullied, threatened, and emotionally abused. How society puts sports figures on a pedestal, they are untouchable, and not held responsible for their actions because they are hailed as some kind of hero.
Backman explores hope, perseverance, and the love of sport and juxtaposes it against the crippling burden of being the best and doing whatever it takes, no matter how high the price and at what cost.