The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Paperback to be published on January 1, 2016.
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.
I really wanted to love this book. But sadly I did not. It had the makings of a perfect book for me. A bookish young woman travels from Sweden to rural Iowa to meet an old woman she’s befriended due to their shared love of books. Upon arriving she discovers her dead. The town’s eccentric council members convince her to stay in in the woman’s house, and she decides to open a book store in the dying town.
The main character, Sara, was easy to relate to, and I enjoyed the small town antics. But some of the characters weren’t fleshed out enough. The exchanges were rather confusing in the beginning. Bivald includes letters from Amy in between chapters throughout the book, but I think I would have preferred some more set up in the beginning. Sara seemed to know all of the people in town, but the reader comes to the knowledge late, which made the story a bit hard to follow.
The pacing was a little off for me as well. The plot was very slow to develop. I reached 30% in the ebook before the book store was even open. At about 60% the story did draw me in a little more, but it was still kind of a push to get through the book.
I enjoyed the literary references. And the book store aspect reminded me of Bookends by Jane Green, one of my favorite books. This book is often compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I guess it had the similar small town, large cast feel, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. The story of the dying town being brought back to life by a visitor was similar to the movie Doc Hollywood, another favorite of mine, but it was not executed as well.
My Rating: 3 Stars
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