The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Published on January 19, 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary / women's fiction.

My rating:

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.

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I didn’t know this was a translated book before I started reading it. I don’t think that this fact changed my reading experience much, the translation is very good (at least as far as I can tell as I can’t speak Swedish), so I wouldn’t have noticed at all if I didn’t read the very first page(s). I can now count this towards my goal of reading more non-English books (even though it’s actually in English – I wouldn’t have been able to read it in Swedish, after all).

I liked The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It’s a heartfelt story with interesting characters and I found myself wondering what I’d do in a similar situation.

Sara arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa, which is essentially the synonym to “the middle of nowhere”, only to discover that her dear pen pal, Amy, has just passed away. She is told by the people attending the funeral that she should most definitely stay in Amy’s house, which is exactly what she does because she is too confused to do anything else. It looks like Amy had been sick for a long time, so Sara doesn’t know why she invited her over in the first place.

But Sara’s life back in Sweden doesn’t really hold much appeal at the moment – she’d lost her job because the bookstore she’s worked at for years has closed. Her family isn’t all that supportive of her new adventure – her parents constantly underestimate her and she feels like nobody would really miss her if she just stayed here.

And she does. The town seems very reluctant to accept a stranger at first but the people somehow end up adopting her all the same. It’s baffling to her that no one allows her to pay for anything, even when she sees they could clearly use some money, and she finally finds an interesting way of paying them back.

I really enjoyed this story. Sara was a great character, too, it was really nice to see her emerge from her introverted cocoon and unfurl her wings. I did, however, have a complaint or two about the story’s execution: mostly, I was bothered by the unnecessary descriptions of books that Sara and Amy have read. Hello, could you not write down the entire plot of Jane Eyre without warning?! Gah. I have been spoiled for this book before but now I know the entire synopsis and it’s just… WHY?!

I also found myself skimming over the letters that Amy wrote to Sara prior to her death. So I think the story would have benefited from a sharp knife to cut some unnecessary bits and it would have been wonderful. But that’s a personal preference. I saw other positive reviews (here and here), so you might want to give those a read if you’re undecided on whether this book is worth it!

If you read this one and are looking for more – try Little Beach Street Bakery or The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris.

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Have you read The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend? What did you think?

Do you have any good chick lit recommendations? I haven’t read anything in this genre for a while.

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • Maraia

    Chick lit has never been my go-to genre, so I’m not sure if both these authors count, but I really like Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah. I also read several adult Meg Cabot books one summer, which were fun and definitely count as chick lit. :)

    • Hm, I haven’t read any of those (I’ve heard of Meg Cabot though), I’ll check them out! Thanks for your recs. :) I know that if you give a thumbs up to a romance-based story, it has to be good! ;)

      • Maraia

        Hahahaha. I do like romance in books! I love shipping. I just don’t like actual romance novels. The Distant Hours is my favorite by Kate Morton, and Winter Garden and Night Road are my favorites by Kristin Hannah. I like that Kate Morton’s books always have a mystery in them.

        • Ah, okay then :) Shippy books are good, I’ll give you that. I like them both ways – both romances (where the love story is the main plot) and non-romances where the romantic subplot is second to more interesting happenings.
          I’ll definitely check those out, thanks for the specific titles – it’s always hard to start reading a new author blind.

  • This sounds like a really good read! I generally only read YA but this sounds interesting! :)

    • You know, if you want to branch out from YA this might not be the best title to start with. I mean, it’s perfectly okay and all but it probably won’t wow you like it should. Not that I’m un-recommending the book but if you don’t usually read in this genre, you might want to try something else first (Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season and Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe are among my favourite chick lit titles). :) Just a suggestion!

  • I didn’t realise how much of chick-lit type book this was until your review, not that that puts me off I love chick-lit so it just makes me more excited to read it. I didn’t know it was a translation either, that is another tick on my challenges this year, I have to buy it now. It sucks that you felt it needed a bit more editing down of some unnecessary stuff, but you are right in it being a personal preference. I know a lot of people didn’t like the Simon/Baz scenes in Fangirl and I thought they rocked so it’s not like that’s enough to put anyone off reading it (I hope). Also surprise spoilers are the worst, I know it’s assumed everyone knows the story of old classics even if they haven’t read them, but it’s still annoying.

    As for some chick-lit recommendations… I like Sophie Kinsella’s books, they’re fun, also Lindsey Kelk writes good British chick-lit. I love the adult books Sarra Manning wrote like Nine Uses For An Ex Boyfriend etc. Also have you read any of Mhairi Mcfarlane’s books? I’ve read a couple and they were really fun.