“Feel-good books were ones you could put down with a smile on your face, books that made you think the world was a little crazier, stranger, and more beautiful when you looked up from them.” (151)
The buzz surrounding The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (January 2016) has been building for quite some time. I first heard about this book during a conference last year discussing prepubs. A bestseller in Katarina Bivald’s home country, it is now available internationally to English readers. I couldn’t wait to read my copy of it. Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop, said it best in her front cover quote: “One of those books you want to live in for a little while.” I didn’t want this book to end. It is so good!
What does a woman from Broken Wheel, Iowa have in common with a woman from Haninge, Sweden? Their love for books. Devoted pen pals, Sara travels to America for the first time to finally meet her friend in person. Having recently lost her job as a bookshop assistant, she plans to stay with Amy for two months. Sadly, Sara receives horrible news when she sets foot in Broken Wheel: Amy has died. Although this sounds more like an ending than a beginning, this heartwarming story is truly just starting. The citizens of Broken Wheel embrace her, their first visitor.
Bivald does a fantastic job bringing quirky, small town America to life—not a small feat for a woman from Sweden. The cast of characters (and many book cameos) is what makes this novel so special.
We get to know Amy through her letters which are sprinkled throughout the novel. Amy writes alot about her family and friends, revealing secrets and family trees. I really liked how this letter structure worked. It really was a powerful tool in letting the reader know what both Amy and Sara knew.
The writing and charm of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend reminds me of books by Beth Hoffman and Amy Hill Hearth. I highly recommend this novel to book lovers and book clubs. It’s both relatable and discussable. In fact, included in the back matter (past the list of books and authors mentioned in the book) is a reading group guide with thirteen great questions. Don’t miss out on this fantastic book!
Reviewed by Libby Bridges
Check out our Book Addict Inspirations on Pinterest!