I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Published by Chatto & Windus on June 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, General, Romance
Buy on Amazon, B&N
The International Bestseller
Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.
It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.
Or is it?
The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.
Sara has recently lost her job and now she is starting to question her own life choices. She’s always found books to be a great distraction from a world she considers not worth being part of, but more and more she’s beginning to wonder what hiding behind books has really given her. What if all that time spent hiding from heart ache and pain has kept her from experiencing life? It’s with this mindset Sara decides to take a risk and do something completely out of her element: she’s going to America! Sara travels all the way to Broken Wheel, USA to meet her pen pal and fellow book lover Amy for the first time. Unfortunately, the trip doesn’t work out at all how she planned but slowly the quirky town works it’s way under her skin and leads her on a path to self discovery.
Readers of The Broken Wheel Recommend is a story about pen pals, friendship, self discovery and loss. Sara is the every-woman of book nerds everywhere who hide behind a book cover whenever life gets difficult.
I found this book intelligently written with eloquent words and fantastic imagery. I loved the author’s tone. The characters were incredibly complex with long histories that affected the lives of each character uniquely. I found myself feeling empathy for poor George who fell into alcoholism following the breakup of his family, causing him to lose his only daughter. I felt tortured for poor Caroline who, although extremely loud and over religious, was a woman who regretted never meeting “The One”. I even grieved the passing of Amy through reading the letters Sara and Amy shared over their brief friendship. It is so very rare to meet someone who truly understands you and Amy’s sudden departure before Sara could meet her caused tremendous pain.
I found the epistolary method employed by Bivald while transitioning between chapters genius because it slowly develops Amy and Sara’s relationship throughout the book while often highlighting town relationships explored in the next chapter. Mostly I loved this method because by the end the reader has developed an emotional connection to Amy and Sara’s friendship so that the last letter pretty much gives you the big “Feels”.
Sara sighed. It was like trying to change an unhappy ending in a book. However much you tried to convince yourself that things could end differently if only you could get rid of the sadistic bungler of an author, it was all still there in the back of your mind.
This is a story about a woman who learns to live outside her books and live life. Its about a woman who learns to distinguish literature from reality and the profound difference that makes in enjoying one’s life. Who knew opening a book store in a small town in a foreign country could have such a profound effect on so many individuals? Sara and her bookshop, The Oak Tree Bookstore, changes not only the lives of each person in Broken Wheel in positive ways, but also begins the resurrection of a once dead town fighting for its last breath. It was heartbreaking and inspiring experience to read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.
Honestly, this review doesn’t even come close to how I feel about this book. I don’t think I possess the writing skill to really convey how much I loved this book.
Dewey used to take naps in the box of library cards, in the box of return forms and the box of tissues, and on visitors’ laps or in their briefcases. When people started turning up to use the library’s computer to look for jobs that didn’t exist, he sat on their knees.
I want to think that it helped.
This book would appeal to readers who enjoy stories about friendship, self discovery, recovery and small town America. I would only suggest reading this if you want to feel deep, powerful emotions and have a deep respect for books. A definite chick lit novel with a variety of characters and a surprisingly accurate depiction of small town America (or so I think, I’m not actually from a small American town).