The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Release Date: January 2016

Source: WHSmith

Rating: 4/5

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy.  When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended.  Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist — even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books.  Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

I had easily been eyeing the display for about ten minutes before realizing I had an hour to kill before catching my train back to Germany from London, so I decided to pop in and take a closer look.  The cover and back blurb won me over immediately and I just as quickly queued up to make my purchase.

Bivald’s novel tells the story of a small American town, practically abandoned and in disrepair, badly needing a lot of care and love.  That’s exactly what Sara brings to Broken Wheel.  She arrives, hoping to meet her elderly pen pal and book exchange partner, in town only to find out her friend had passed away.  Despite the awkwardness of the situation, the town welcomes her anyway, and in return, Sara opens a much needed bookstore to liven up the town of Broken Wheel and its residents.

Although the novel’s main focus is on Sara and her journey to self-discovery and romance, we see the development of many secondary characters.  The beginning of the novel sees residents of Broken Wheel as reclusive, repressed, close-minded, depressed… the list could go on, but as Sara manages to get the bookstore running, we see everyone embark on their own journeys of self-discovery, acceptance and pursuit of happiness.

Overall, I found that Bivald’s writing perfectly handles the mess of characters and the development of tangible sub-plots and backstories, all of which I found to be as equally interesting as Sara’s.  Her writing is strong enough to hold up each story line and keep them moving forward at a good pace, allowing the story to fold naturally rather than force the stories to work together — although a little too cliched at times.  The ending was definitely predictable, but this didn’t hurt my experience of reading the book at all.

The whole bookworm and passion for literature vibe that resonated throughout the book made it extremely enjoyable for me to read.  I feel like I have never related more to any character in a book — her description of books, her love for them, her obsession — I maybe too strongly identify with Sara’s perfect imperfection of liking books more than people, but I’m okay with that.

The novel was a light read, making it the perfect vacation novel.  It has an simple premise, quirky characters, interesting story with a dash of romance.  I’ve already recommended it to a handful of people, all of whom are embarking on their warm getaways to escape the harsh cold and snow of Canada, and I know, despite their varying tastes in literature, they will enjoy this book.



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