You’ll enjoy ‘Us Against You’ more if you read the prequel

You’re going down.

Down, defeated, beaten, and sent home. You’re losing, not winning, and you need to know how it happened so it won’t happen again. Winners are champs, losers are chumps, and the latter is no fun. Besides, as in the new book “Us Against You” by Fredrik Backman, losing can take an entire town down with you.

Hockey was everything for Beartown.

Until it wasn’t.

Back when the Bears were about to launch their team onto a national stage, Beartowners were riding high. Nobody could talk about anything but hockey, until Kevin Erdahl was arrested for raping Maya Andersson. Maya lost her childhood, the Bears lost the game, Coach lost his job, the town lost their team. Beartown hockey would be absorbed by Hed, the next town over and Beartown’s most hated rival.

Peter Andersson knew that everyone in Beartown blamed him for this – everyone, except the few who stood up for Maya and those who understood that he was a father before he was a coach. Now Peter watched everything fall around him, including his daughter, who seldom came home anymore; and his son, who carried anger around like an oxygen tank. Peter’s call to the police that night last winter ended a lot of things: friendships, futures, businesses, relationships. But what else could he do?

Not much, until he was given a lifeline.

Richard Theo always got what he wanted. And what he wanted was political office, power, and money from Beartown, without being blamed for anything that might happen while he achieved it. Years before, he’d learned that if he could determine someone’s deepest wishes, he could manipulate them for his own gain. Theo had become good at it, and Peter wore his wishes on his sleeve.

But, though Theo demanded it, could a lesbian coach, a few uncontrollable players, and some “hooligans” finish what Peter had been unable to do? What price was he willing to pay for himself, his family, and his town to get his club back?

Okay. Just so we’re clear on “Us Against You”: this is what it’s like to have your heart torn from your chest, tied with a string, and played with like a yo-yo.

This is what it’s like to be amused and teased, hurt and prodded and dangled by a narrator that will remind you of a red-nosed reindeer’s snowman. And you’re going to love every second of it because author Fredrik Backman has you on that string: pull up, and you’re laughing at a razor-keen observation on one of the characters. Spin down, and you’re so inside that character that you feel the sharpness of their pain.

The space between the two is where you’ll find one of the better novels you’ll read this year.

“Us Against You” is a sequel to last years’ “Beartown,” and while Backman gets readers up-to-speed pretty quickly, you’ll be happier if you read the first book first. Do that, then come back quick because once you’ve got this book in-hand, it’s not going down.

More in Life

Courtesy photo
The ABBAgraphs coming to the Ave

Tribute band brings back the sounds of Swedish pop group

BowieVision lead singer Stefan Mitchell. COURTESY PHOTO
BowieVision performs at the Auburn Ave on Sept. 28.

BowieVision will bring an epic and intimate experience when the band performs… Continue reading

Bringing all types of art to life

Creative, versatile Brugger to teach Green River College’s first ever how-to animation class this fall

Hops & Crops Music and Beer Festival returning to Mary Olson Farm

Tickets on sale for Sept. 15 gathering at Auburn’s historic hamlet

Auburn-area community calendar | Sept. 12

Events Auburn Tourism: For special events or to add a special event,… Continue reading

Auburn library September listings | KCLS

Events for adults, families and children

The Washington State Fair in Puyallup continues through Sept. 23, with big fun, big food and big concerts. Guest can enjoy their favorite foods, rides, vendors and entertainment. COURTESY PHOTO
Auburn-area community calendar | Sept. 7

Key events, programs and other listings

Answers may be hard to come

You’re on the edge of your chair. Curiosity is almost killing you;… Continue reading

‘If You Love Me’ deserves a spot on your bookshelf

First tooth, first step. Every milestone your baby passed was reason for… Continue reading

Returning sounds

Northwest broadcaster and poet donates historic radio programming archive to museum

Auburn-area community calendar | Aug. 17

Event listings, including fundraisers and museum programming

Dive into the story of the average gig-employee

Your allowance was never enough, as a kid. Oh, sure, it bought… Continue reading