About the author:
Katarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She’s currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparently, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books.
Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn’t decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they’re better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having no one to recommend it to.
About the book:
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.
Young, single, jobless foreign woman comes to visit a penpal in a dying small town where she fulfills her dream as part of her two-month vacation. Quiet, silent, enigmatic young man. Friendly but nosy townspeople. These are ingredients that can make a narrative either a series of endless and painful clichés or a charming and compelling narrative.
Thankfully, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend turned out to be the latter.
This book has clearly been written by a bookworm, what with all the book references it makes. It follows Sara from her native Sweden as she travels to middle-of-nowhere, Iowa, to visit a long-time penpal, Amy. Unfortunately, Sara didn’t make it in time; unbeknown to her, Amy had been quite sick recently and passed away mere days before she made it to Broken Wheel. The townspeople, knowing how much Sara meant to Amy, take it upon themselves to welcome her into their little dying town, where Sara discovers a whole new way of living that seems to better suit her quiet, introverted personality than her previous life did.
One has to set aside doubts and cynicism if one is to be carried away by this book’s magic. True, reading doesn’t magically remove generation-long prejudices, because books in themselves are not magic wands. Books only work their magic on readers whose minds are open and whose intellect is willing to make the effort. But if books did find their way to a small town whose inhabitants are open-minded enough to embrace such changes, then indeed, there is magic waiting to happen.
Like one would expect from a book set in a small, dying town, the pace, while constantly moving ahead, is slow relative to the regular diet of chick flicks, mysteries, etc. that one might be used to. But it makes for a cozy, comfortable escape rather than a heart-pounding thrill, something that is needed at times in today’s hectic world. Predictable yet engaging, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend offers a relaxing trip for those of us who would love to go on one but cannot afford it, be it because of money or because of time.