Pub. Date: 01/01/2016
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
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. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town.
Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.
Central to The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is the love of literature. Books suffuse the pages of this... book. There's references to classics of literature and there are descriptions of moments which every avid reader will recognize. As such, this novel feels a little bit like a mirror for readers. On the one hand we let books dominate our life sometimes, rather thinking about fictional characters than the people around us, but on the other hand our lives are enriched by all these fantastical worlds we visit. We experience love, tragedy, horror and beauty from these pages and there's only beauty in that. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend celebrates this with its main character Sara, who has lived much of her life through books. Her insistence that books is what everyone needs in their lives is not only reminiscent of every reader I know, but also allows the book to tell loads of different stories.
Key to this book is Bivald's beautiful description of the daily life of little towns, those that are forgotten about, that are hardly a dot on the map and which are, nonetheless, everything some people have. Bivald beautifully sketches some of the generations-long feuds and expectations that exist in such towns. There are traditions to uphold, there are prejudices and there are public secrets, all of which come together to make one very complicated little town. Each of the characters in Broken Wheel are interesting, with independent backstories and all with something to add to the story. Bivald sketches them beautifully and you'll get attached to and invested in all of them! I was also extremely pleased to see Bivald address the way in which society can vilify people for their own pleasure. One of the female characters is so stuck in her expected role that it becomes quite heart breaking eventually. Bivald finds a good balance between good fun and quiet, reflective moments.
Bivald's writing style is one of the highlights of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. The plot is, in and of itself, a simple one but Bivald infuses it with a lot of heart and kindness. Sara is a very sympathetic character, stuck in a place where she's completely out of her comfort zone. The narrative is interspersed with letters from Amy to Sara, which form something of a guiding light throughout the book. Amy very much introduces Broken Wheel and its inhabitants to the reader. As I've said, the story of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is quite simple and, at times, very predictable. However, because Bivald opens the story up to a number of other characters while also truly enjoying the more bizarre aspects of "small town values", the novel is an incredibly fun read. Once I got closer to the end of it I simply couldn't put it down and stayed up quite late for it.
I give this book...
I truly enjoyed reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It was one of those books that's just great to read when it's cold outside and you're wrapped up warm, preferably with a cup of hot coffee. It's also reignited my desire to own a book store. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a celebration of literature and I'd recommend it to everyone who loves reading.
And there's a giveaway! You can win one of three copies of this great book and give yourself the perfect spring read!
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