It’s been awhile since I’ve really loved a good book. Perhaps Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park was the last book that I finished and just wanted to hug. With Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, every page and every word, completely broke my heart into a million pieces.
Beartown is the name of a fictional small-town whose residents all pin their hopes and dreams on the local junior boys hockey team. We have Kevin, the team’s star player, who shoulders much of the pressure from his distant parents and all the citizens of Beartown. His best friend, Benji, is the boy with the sad eyes and a wild heart who tries to protect Kevin from anything that tries to break through their hockey bubble. Amat, whose mother Fatima works as a janitor at the ice rink, is the runty but speedy up and comer who has to battle being seen as a foreigner as well as deal with Bobo, the school bully. Then we have the coaches who constantly face the balancing act of taking care of their players and being forced to put the hockey club first. All of this buckles into a storm of emotions and events that eventually leads one teenager to raise a gun to the head of another and pull the trigger.
Beartown is filled with unforgettable characters that you will cry for, champion, be enraged at, and be inspired by. I could not put this book down, and I didn’t want it to end! A breathtaking fable of ambition, hope, and courage. (Submitted by Alan)
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Hasan Namir’s novel, God in Pink, is a deeply powerful psychological and philosophical narrative. It’s a plea for justice, the use of critical thinking, and empathy.
Ramy is a young, gay man living and studying in Baghdad. His country, society, and religion view homosexuality as a sin; therefore, Ramy’s life is filled with loneliness, secrets, violence, injustice, and downright misery. After constantly living in fear and anxiety for many years, the protagonist of the story turns to God and his tumultuous heart and mind seek counsel from a local sheikh. However, help is not easy to find when people see the world in black and white colours only. Even more challenging is to make people think for themselves rather than follow scriptures which presumably state exactly what’s right and what’s wrong. One of Ramy’s greatest struggles is to understand why religion states that God loves us all equally, yet that same religion outlaws homosexuals, leaving them taunted and penalized for being the way they are.
This book offers plenty of thoughts for discussion and contemplation, and will serve as a perfect opportunity to touch base with your own values and beliefs. (Submitted by Surinder)
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I had just about given up on heroic fantasy. Then, I discovered Kings of the Wyld, a fresh and lively standalone adventure that is gripping, funny, and occasionally brutal. The plot is familiar. Circumstances force a former mercenary band of heroes to reform for one last quest. But the mixture of classic high fantasy tropes from Tolkien, the grittiness of Joe Abercrombie (without the pessimism), and the light satirical touch and humour of Terry Pratchett, give this story an engaging vigour.
In the end, it’s a very human story with sympathetic, likeable characters, especially the main protagonist Clay Cooper. He is an affable man who would like to put his violent past behind him and enjoy a peaceful life with his family. But of course, fate is not done with him yet. He must rise to the occasion one more time, and persuade his erstwhile companions to join him. Along the way they face every sort of magical and monstrous creature in the fantastic bestiary, and face some mighty foes in battle. They must rediscover the power of friendship and family, and what it means to be a hero.
Recommended for lovers of heroic fantasy or anyone who likes a rousing adventure and doesn’t mind a certain amount of graphic violence. (Submitted by Jim)
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Best book for girls about to start high school! This book was really hard to put down – the setting is very contemporary with lots of appeal for young people. I read this book out loud to my reluctant 12-year old daughter, and she begged for “one more chapter” every night. It sparked some great conversations about everyday life experiences – how friendships change, staying true to yourself, even the tricky world of texting and snapchat. I’ve recommended it to all my mom friends with daughters about to start high school. We borrowed the ebook from the library, but since then my daughter wants a copy of her own to keep and reread. This is a stand-alone book, not part of a series, but there are other great books by the same author. This author has really captured something special – I feel like I got inside the head of a young teenager and was better able to understand their joys and challenges. Not too preachy. Not too sugar-coated or scary. Just right. (Submitted by Sara)
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Me Before You has an unusual twist which really saves the novel from being another redundant Jane Eyre-Cinderella type of story.
Louisa Clark is a simple girl with down-to-earth expectations of life. She is from a working class family, living in a little town. At a first glance, she is unremarkable, except for her peculiar tastes in fashion. However, when you get to know Lou, you see that she has such a vibrant personality: her liveliness, optimism, perseverance, and kindness can fuel the universe for years to come!
William Traynor is a handsome, successful, daring, witty, and rich young man.
Lou and Will would have been a cliche-perfect romantic pair. But, here is where the author takes matters into her hands and writes an unexpected destiny for the couple. Will ends up in a road accident that leaves him a quadriplegic. Ironically, that’s when the beauty of the story kicks in.
After you are done with the book, borrow a movie! Still want more? Get the sequel – After You.
Surrey Libraries have them all: the book, the movie, and the sequel. Just drop by your local branch! (Submitted by Mariya)