I picked up the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald because I heard it sponsored on a Book Riot podcast a while back. I always look up books that sound interesting when they are discussed on Book Riot podcasts. If you haven’t, you should check them out!
Swedish Sara travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa to visit longtime penpal Amy. Upon arrival, Sara finds that her friend is dead, and the members of the small town have made arrangements for Sara to stay at Amy’s home during her scheduled visit. In an attempt to contribute to the town, Sara opens a bookstore using Amy’s collection of books. As many small town stories go, the members of the town meddle a little, all in the name of looking out for Sara’s best interests, and Sara’s two month stay leaves everyone wishing it were longer.
This was a cute story about books, which is what drew me to the story to begin with. The discussions of books is what kept me reading. While I didn’t recognize all the books mentioned, I recognized most, and it was a nice sort of thrill to read positive things about books that I love so much.
On the one hand I loved that so many books I had read were mentioned, but on the other, I would sometimes get frustrated because of it. If I didn’t agree with her opinion of the book. John Grisham is not an unreliable author! Also, I’m a little disappointed that, in a letter from Amy to Sarah, the book states that no good stories are ever told in Iowa. Ever heard of Marilynne Robinson? I have to remind myself that the author is not a native, so maybe she hasn’t come across Robinson’s work yet.
I know the characters in the town were supposed to be cute and funny, but I definitely found the town council to be very annoying and pushy. There were a couple of incidents in the book that just had me rolling me eyes and thinking these characters were totally ridiculous and terribly stereotypical. In an attempt to make special and unique character, the author just made characters just like everyone else does. The annoyance I had for the town council made me put the book down a lot more than I should have and took about twice as long to read because of it.
Putting aside the stereotypical characters aside, I found the story to be charming and vaguely heartwarming. I couldn’t help but love Sara. I think I have a lot in common with her, and so I connected with her right from the start. I really felt for her whenever she thought about not taking any risks in her life. I completely understand how scary it is to have to make the choice to stay where you are, in a home that you are familiar with, where all your friends and family are, or just pick up and move to a whole to place, in Sara’s case a whole new country. Her inner turmoil combined with her love of books made her the perfectly relatable main character.
Read this book if you love cute stories about other people’s love of books and reading. Three Stars.