Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beartown and Am I a Sensitive Reader?

Before I read Beartown, I felt like I "researched" more into this book than any in the past because everyone liked it, but with the disclaimer "triggers abound" or "sensitive readers beware". For me, it was, "well I guess I need to read this book to find out if I am a sensitive reader." 

*Minor spoilers in this post.*

What I gathered from reviews was this was a heavy story, a break away from A Man Called Ove, but that wasn't what turned me off. And knowing a little bit about the content of the story (about a rape), I can see where this would steer people away, but I guess I wasn't seeing why this would be different from a lot of stories that have hard subjects like domestic abuse, addiction, etc. Basically I was really curious to see what the hype was and what everyone was talking about with sensitivity. If I'm reading a hard copy, I can usually see what's coming up ahead and skip over if I need to if it was getting too much for me. So I went with it. 

Some things that bothered me with this read...

-The excessive use of the f-word. Usually this doesn't bother me too much if it's in there occasionally but by golly it felt like every other page (and multiple in those pages) and with a 400+ page book, it was just too much. It seemed more glaring in my face than most books. Maybe this is part of the sensitivity that people were talking about. 

-The structure of the book was really hard to follow at first. They could go through 5-6 characters within one chapter. Once I got the hang of that, it wasn't too bad. In some ways it felt like a movie where you got two scenes going on at the same time and you're going back and forth (heightens the suspense I'm assuming) but for a while it really bothered me. 

For both of these reasons, I would not recommend the audio. 

Here are the things that I did appreciate in the book...

-It was honest. This story covers real situations that we need to talk about more because it's a problem. Also about the shaming and not taking accountability and how much easier it is to hate than to love. There were some really great quotes in the book that touched on this.

-One lesson that stuck out to me was once we take away someone's name from the conversation and call them "the girl" or "the boy" or "young woman," we dehumanize them. And the world of the media can be destructive in anonymity. It opened my eyes once again to that side of things. Makes me really grateful that social media wasn't a big thing till just after high school. I can imagine it being more brutal in schools now with widespread communication. 

-Backman brought out some really great characters (I think Sune was my favorite even though he wasn't in it very long.) They each shined (that sounds a little too nice for this book) but they did in their own way. 

-I was actually eager to discuss the book's subject with a friend on a walk. We were talking about is there only one person at fault in this situation? Who does it affect more? 

I'm hesitant to recommend it to people because of the language. Yes, it is heavy but I think knowing ahead of time what I was getting myself into, made it not as difficult. Maybe because it was more thought-provoking and had more likable characters which made it bearable. 

If someone were to ask me a book I was sensitive to, I would more readily say I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh than this one. This book lacked good discussion, excessive profanity, had awful characters, and main theme was domestic abuse. I guess I was looking for some redeeming qualities in someone and nothing! It was terrible in my opinion. I know it got a lot of love from people because it was a thriller. 

Beartown makes me sensitive with the heavy use of language but maybe not as much with the content than I was expecting. Maybe I'm a selective sensitive reader? It's not like I'm eager to go read more of these type books but at least it's made me more aware. And if I can't handle it, I can always return the book, thank goodness. 

Have you read this book? Thoughts on being a sensitive reader?

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