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.
Genre: Contemporary/Fiction/Adult Fiction
Rating: 3/5 Stars
First Line: “The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.”
Wow. Here I am again guys, after almost a whole month without a book review! I’m so good at this blogging thing! (Note the sarcasm). Sorry for leaving everyone hanging. Homesickness knocked me on my butt at the beginning of this quarter so I went to comfort books for, well, comfort. And since my plan is to only review books I just finished for the first time on this blog, I couldn’t very well post about the book I just finished for the fifth time.
Anyway, to the book!
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is the story of Sara Lindqvist, who travels to a small town called Broken Wheel from Sweden in order to meet her pen pal. When she arrives, she discovers that her pen pal has died and Broken Wheel is quite…broken. Yet the townspeople insist she stay and have her relaxing vacation with her books. During her stay, she makes friends with the many inhabitants of this worn-down town and that’s where the real story is.
This book (novel?) was good. It wasn’t particularly mind blowing or exciting, but it was a sweet read with many eccentric and lovable characters. My favorite character by far was George, who is nominated to become Sara’s driver within the first couple days of her stay in Broken Wheel. George has been through a lot in life, yet he remains one of the most gentle and all-around good characters throughout the book. He’s an underdog; I’m a sucker for the underdog.
Sara, of course, was also a great character. If you’re a reader in any sense of the word, you will probably find a bit of yourself in Sara. The way she talks about books is magical. She puts into words how much books can mean to people and embodies so much of the hope that books can bring. My favorite thing about Sara is that she wholeheartedly believes, “there’s always a person for every book. And a book for every person.”
I believe Sara was meant to be somewhere in her late 20’s, and most of the other characters were older than her. Reading the stories of these characters in their 20’s, 30’s, maybe even 60’s, was exciting for me. There’s adventure in every stage of life, I think, and I love when authors acknowledge that.
The last thing I really enjoyed about this book was that it made me question my opinions and how quickly I form them. There’s a couple different love stories centered around a couple different kinds of love throughout the story. None of the love stories are conventional, however, so they make you think. I feel like telling you about them would be too spoiler-y (I don’t think that’s a word but oh well) so I’ll just say you have to read it if you want to know more!
What I didn’t like about this book was that it left me wanting so much more. Bivald tried so hard to get you to love and know all the characters that none of them were 100% fleshed out. What exactly happened to Amy? What happened to Tom’s dad? What’s up with Sara’s family?
One of the love stories in particular also bothered me just a bit. The two people hardly spent any time together. In fact, for a majority of the book, they were avoiding each other. I felt it was the most questionable of the love stories and I had trouble accepting it, but maybe that’s just me.
Overall though, this book was pretty satisfying. It has some romance, some family drama, some pretty tough women (and men), and books. And who doesn’t like to read a book about books? I’d recommend this one for when you’re feeling the need to fall into a small town and lose yourself among the crazy, lovable characters they seem to grow.