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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
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message 1: by Donna (last edited May 19, 2020 04:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Donna (driley8) | 12 comments Mod
“The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend”, by Katarina Bivald, is a gem of a story bursting with literary references, small town charm, and a cast of characters I wish were my own friends. I found it to be the perfect blend of quirky, feel-good, cozy read and subtle commentary on the state of rural American communities.

Maybe I was only struck with the latter impression because I recently took a class on rural America, but the fact remains – our small towns are struggling with unemployment, school closures, aging populations and dwindling farm families which are all issues addressed in heartfelt conversations throughout the book. I will be the first to admit that it seems unlikely Bivald, a Swedish author living in Stockholm, would be impassioned by or feel the need to showcase the fading of small town America - so perhaps she only meant for Broken Wheel to be a glorified stereotype - but whatever the motivation, “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” reveals true hardships while at the same time delivering an uplifting and endearing depiction of the camaraderie and the hope that can still be found in our rural communities.

In the opening chapter we are introduced to Sara, who has just traveled from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet Amy, the older woman she has been exchanging books and letters with over the course of several years. Although the two have never met in real life, they have developed an understanding of each other and even built a budding friendship through their correspondences and shared love of books. When she lost her job as a bookstore assistant and Amy offered an invitation for an extended stay in America, it seems like the perfect opportunity for Sara to meet her friend and take some time to consider life’s future prospects.

The only problem is that Amy just happened to pass away before Sara arrived in Broken Wheel. Sara is shocked and dismayed, but the citizens of town do their best to roll out the red carpet and insist she stay in Amy’s house according to plan – refusing to allow her to pay for anything – after all, it’s what Amy would have wanted. Despite her first impression of the run-down town, and the fact that Amy is dead, Sara agrees to stay.

She soon runs out of things to do in Broken Wheel and decides to focus her energy on paying off her debts to the town. Since they won’t accept her cash, she devises a plan instead to open a used bookstore with Amy’s vast collection. This way she’ll be able to give back to the town and bring a bit joy into their work weary lives.

Of course the town and Sara are both in for more than they bargained for. In this story of friendship, belonging, and hope Bivald expertly balances humor and tenderness and just might leave readers searching for their own Broken Wheel to call home.

(This book is currently available in Libby and on Hoopla with no wait).

North Greenbush Public Library (ngpl) | 14 comments Mod
I loved this book and completely agree with your review! Especially about wanting some of the characters to be my friends!

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