Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Author: Katarina Bivald
Publicattion date: January 19th 2016
Rating: 7 out of 5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
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. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.
I didn’t just like this book, I loved it. I’ve been raking my mind all morning trying to think of something negative to comment on, just to be sure that I was objective and that I hadn’t left anything out. My negative column is still blank.
So, why did I like it so much?
First things first, the book is written from several points of view. However, the change of POVs was so well-done that I had no problem with it at all. Generally, I loved Katarina Bivald’s writing, especially her descriptions. And this coming from me is a great praise, because I hate descriptions. I know that descriptions are a vital part of any novel, but if they are too long or if they are written badly, I find it hard to concentrate on reading them. Also, I really liked the chapter names. Some of them were really funny, but—and this is why I liked them so much—most of them drew the reader’s attention and made reading “Just another chapter and I’ll go to sleep” inevitable. What I’m trying to say was that the chapter title intrigued me to the point where I had to continue reading just to see what she meant by it.
Now, let’s talk a bit about the characters. Every character had this one trait or quirk or habit that was the most important part of them and their entire description revolved around that trait. I think this technique for character creation (whether we are talking about writing or even other types of art) is ingenious, because it makes that character interesting and relatable and it helps the reader picture them in their minds. They are not just parts of a story any more, they are instantly connected to the other people in real life that they share these traits with. So this way the story becomes instantly more realistic. Is what I’m saying making any sense? (Tell me if it doesn’t and I’ll try to edit it so that it does.)
Anyway, I had an almost instant connection to the main character, Sara. While reading the book I kept finding out more and more things that we had in common. It was nice because I was able to relate to her thoughts, feelings and fears. I’m not going to talk about Tom, because I think he was my least favourite character in the book, even though he was the male protagonist.
There are two other characters that I would like to mention, though. The first one is Caroline. Caroline was a person who had lived a life in which there were only THOU SHALT NOTS and religion. But slowly she is starting to realize that there are other more important things in life and I was able to see the vulnerability that was hidden underneath all these rules. I think that this can be a very delicate and controversial matter and I believe that the author handled it really well. The second character I want to talk about is George. George is a recovering alcoholic, he is that one person the entire town has been referring to as ‘Poor George’ all throughout his life, his is an addict, unemployed, and his wife abandoned him. But what I found so fascinating about him was his love for his daughter. Even though he knew all along that wasn’t truly his, a fact that his wife made sure that the whole town knew before abandoning him. Still, 15 years later he’s still as devoted to her as ever. I don’t know if it’s just me being overly emotional, or if it’s generally true but the parts written from George’s POV always made me cry.
What was actually my favorite part of the book was its message. The fact that a very quiet girl from Sweden, traveled to a small town in the US and managed to pass her love for literature onto a group of people who two months before her arrival couldn’t even understand why anyone would ever want to pick up a book to read. In other words, this girl managed to change in less than two months the way an entire town was thinking about a certain subject. In this case it was books. However, the same principal could be applied to anything like prejudice against groups of people, or the protection of the environment and so on. After all, Sara did nothing more and nothing less than find the best way to approach each individual to make them see things from a different perspective. I found this really inspiring.
Phew! I could go on and on about why this book is sooo great. But I don’t want to make this post boring. I hope that you will give the Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend a try, if not for anything else then to simply find WHAT it is that the readers of Broken Wheel recommend and exactly HOW they go about doing it. Have I intrigued you yet or not?
Lastly, I got this book through Netgalley and it was part of my Read the Globe Challenge.
A few things 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’scurrently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unneccessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, 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.
Now it’s your turn…
Have you read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend? Would you like to? Have you heard of Katarina Bivald before? Did you like this review? And also, did you like that I added a few things about the author in the end? Tell me all about it in the comments below…