United And Divided
The Scandal by Fredrik Backman (translated by Neil Smith) is a contemporary novel about small town living in Sweden. It is a town both united and divided by ice hockey. Ice hockey dominates everything. It is the be-all and end-all.
The town revolves around ice hockey. You are either in the ‘in’ crowd or you are outside looking in. The novel shows this obsession can blur and warp people’s thinking.
There is the theme of family. Family sticks together. The ice hockey family demand loyalty. There is a high price to pay if you do not give it.
Friendships are important. Some have been forged in childhood.
Ice hockey makes heroes. Once placed on the pedestal, there is only one way to fall.
The novel has the difficult topic of rape. The aftermath and shocks are realistically portrayed. “She’s scared of the darkness in the middle of the day.” The parents desire for both revenge and to protect and feelings of failure are all understandable. “Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterwards.” The reader can empathise with both the victim and we understand the feelings of both sets of parents. It is all sensitively done.
There is much use of four letter words in the novel which I did not particularly like. However I do realise that their inclusion was for realism.
The Scandal was a novel of two halves. I must admit to finding the first half hard to get into but I realise now that that was the author setting the scene. The second half was extremely intense. I was on tenterhooks, anticipating the action to come.
The Scandal was not my usual genre but it was an interesting, if rather disturbing read.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.