“The Winners” by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

“It is often said that history is written by the winners, but there are no winners here.”

In 2018 I read “Beartown“. It was phenomenal. Then later that same year I read “Us Against You“, and that actually managed to surpass ‘Beartown’.  WOW!  So… you can imagine my excitement when I learned there was to be a final novel set in this tiny rural town in Sweden.
I don’t really even like hockey, but, like the previous two books in the Beartown trilogy, it is much more than a book about hockey. It is a book about people, about a town, about the world.

I strongly urge anyone who is entertaining the idea of reading “The Winners” to read “Beartown” and “Us Against You” first.  In Beartown you will come to love the town and its inhabitants.  In “Us against you” the love will swell enough to break your heart.

Told over a period of roughly two weeks, the narrative of “The Winners” is a memorable one. Old favourite characters are revisited, lesser known characters become more well known. Storms, rivalries, social injustice, and loss change the trajectory of many lives.

With myriad themes running throughout this novel, Backman does what very few authors can claim to do. He makes you CARE about each and every character (even the hooligans and the corrupt politicians). He makes wise and astute observations about parenting, explores the perils of obsessive rivalry,  true friendship, responsibility, loss, loyalty, sacrifice, family, community, revenge, corruption, leadership, teamwork, violence, respect, courage, consequences, the human need to be ‘needed, and the powerful feeling of ‘belonging’.  Not bad for one novel – albeit a lengthy one at 688 pages.

With the overriding theme of the myriad aspects of what it means to be human, this novel is told as a epic story laced with pathos, wisdom, and sometimes humour.

With concise sentences Backman turns just a few words into moving and impactful observations.  I loved how he writes passages that allude to an outcome to be revealed further on in the book. This is a novel peopled by wonderful characters.  Ordinary people. I was reluctant to finish the book as it would mean I would have to leave Beartown…

They say that reading fiction generates empathy in the reader. Whoever ‘they’ are must have read Fredrik Backman. “What is life, other than moments?”

I really cannot recommend “The Winners” highly enough.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster and Atria Books via NetGalley.

It will be published by Atria Books on September 27, 2022

ISBN: 9781982112790 –  ASIN:  B09RX39SMF  –  688 pages

Whenever I read a book, I always highlight my favourite passages.  With Backman books, I tend to get carried away as he is my favourite author! Here are just some of my favorite quotes from “The Winners”

“You get success by having extremely high integrity but absolutely zero prestige. Because integrity is about who you are, whereas prestige is only about what other people think of you.”

“No one tells you before you procreate that the hardest thing about being a good parent is that you never feel like one.”

“Our children never warn us that they’re thinking of growing up, one day they’re just too big to want to hold our hand, it’s just as well we never know when the last time is going to be or we’d never let go.”

“In communities surrounded by wilderness people are connected by invisible threads, but also by sharp hooks, so when one turns too suddenly, it isn’t always just their shirt that someone else loses. Sometimes it rips the heart out of all of us.”

“Being married is easy, she usually thinks. You just pick an argument you’re really good at, then repeat it at least once a week for all eternity.”

“Guilt is always stronger than logic.”

“Fear turns some people into heroes but most of us only reveal our worst sides when we’re caught in its shadow.”

“We fool ourselves that we can protect the people we love, because if we accepted the truth we’d never let them out of our sight.”

“Where you are born and who you become is a cruel lottery.”

“Sometimes we stay in towns and marriages simply because we would otherwise have no story. We have too much in common. We think no one else would be able to understand us.”

“Fairy tales are what help us cope with funerals.”

“Mothers and daughters know how to wound each other in totally unique ways, possibly because daughters often carry the guilt of their mothers’ consciences, until they end up arguing about sins that they haven’t even committed.”

“All children are victims of their parents’ childhoods, because all adults try to give their kids what they themselves enjoyed or lacked.”

“The end of life is as unstoppable as its beginning, we can’t stop the first and last breaths we take any more that we can stop the wind.”

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish columnist, blogger and writer of the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries, in more than twenty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

Connect with Fredrik Backman via Twitter and/or Instagram.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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16 Responses to “The Winners” by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

  1. Backman can really do no wrong, can he? I still haven’t read Beartown or Us Against You yet, only because other books of his keep crossing my path first – but this one sounds beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad this one more than lived up to your expectations Lynne!

    Like

  3. I just finished reading it as well, and my review will be up next week. But OH, I could NOT agree with you MORE. I cried and cried and cried! Damn that Backman… he’s done it again!

    Like

  4. Carla says:

    Excellent post, Lynne. So many wonderful quotes that have me even more eager to get to this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol says:

    Ahhhh! It’s so hard to review his work! Fabulous review, Lynne! Backman can pack in the most thought provoking themes! I heard him comment that he gave everything he had to this final installment. I have an online ticket to one of his US tour stops. I’m eager to hear him discuss it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an excellent review! I can’t wait to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful review–thorough, thoughtful, and inciteful.

    Liked by 1 person

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