Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend


  • Author: Katarina Bivald
  • ISBN: 9781492623441
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages: 400

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. – Goodreads synopsis

I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a book I couldn’t put down once I started reading.  The opening pages hooked me by making me wonder what I would do if I found myself stranded in a small town in another country.  Then I wondered what I would do if I found out that not only was I in a strange place but the person I was visiting but had never met before had passed away shortly before my arrival.  The more I thought about it I saw just how possible Sara’s situation was, especially considering I talk to people I’ve never met every day, and some of them live in countries I’ve never been.  The more I develop these global friendships, the more I can see how maybe someday I or they would take the opportunity to get on a plane to meet up in person.  I’ve traveled around the world my entire life, so why not?

The rest of the story is full of familiar faces.  Having lived in an extremely small town in Wisconsin at one point in my life, I recognized each of the characters living in Broken Wheel.  That’s not to say they were 2D stock characters out of a sitcom.  There was more to each of them than the stereotypes they represent at the beginning of the story.  What I am saying is that anyone familiar with Small Town America will find the book to be comforting.  While complex issues are well represented throughout the story, they’re brought up in a way that isn’t jarring or unsettling the way that Literary or Speculative Fiction can be.  The author tells a somewhat light-hearted story while at the same time showing that there is diversity in even the smallest of towns, even if it doesn’t seem that way at first glance.

I can easily see The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend being adapted to film.  I don’t know how I feel about that, though, simply because I think Hollywood would beat it into the shape of a Rom Com and end up losing a lot of what makes this book so enjoyable.  However, it’s worth reading, especially if you loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin or if you just need a comfort read to relax into on a snowy or rainy day.  I will be adding this to my go-to books for when life gets to be too much.