A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller
"A heartwarming tale about literature's power to transform." People
A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.
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 book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitorthere's not much else to do in a dying small town that's almost beyond repair.
You certainly wouldn't open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You'd need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy's house is full of them), and...customers.
The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel's own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
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Books 1Life 0
The strange woman standing on Hope's main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous. A thin, plain figure dressed in an autumn coat much too gray and warm for the time of year, a backpack lying on the ground by her feet, an enormous suitcase resting against one of her legs. Those who happened to witness her arrival couldn't help feeling it was inconsiderate for someone to care so little about their appearance. It seemed as though this woman was not the slightest bit interested in making a good impression on them.
Her hair was a nondescript shade of brown, held back with a carelessly placed hair clip that didn't stop it from flowing down over her shoulders in a tangle of curls. Where her face should have been, there was a copy of Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl.
She didn't seem to care at all that she was in Hope. It was as if she had just landed there, with book and luggage and uncombed hair, and might just as well have been in any other town in the world. She was standing on one of the most beautiful streets in Cedar County, maybe even the prettiest in east central Iowa, but the only thing she had eyes for was her book.
But then again, she couldn't be entirely uninterested. Every now and again a pair of big gray eyes peeped up over the edge of the book, like a prairie dog sticking its head up to check whether the coast was clear. She would lower the book further and look sharply to the left, then swing her gaze as far to the right as she could without moving her head. Then she would raise the book and sink back into the story again.
In actual fact, Sara had taken in almost every detail of the street. She would have been able to describe how the last of the afternoon sun was gleaming on the polished SUVs, how even the treetops seemed neat and well organized, and how the hair salon 150 feet away had a sign made from laminated plastic in patriotic red, white, and blue stripes. The scent of freshly baked apple pie filled the air. It was coming from the café behind her, where a couple of middle-aged women were sitting outside and watching her with clear distaste. That was how it looked to Sara, at least. Every time she glanced up from her book, they frowned and shook their heads slightly, as though she was breaking some unwritten rule of etiquette by reading on the street.
She took out her phone and redialed. It rang nine times before she hung up.
So Amy Harris was a bit late. Surely there would be a perfectly reasonable explanation. A flat tire maybe. Out of gas. It was easy to be-she checked her phone again-two hours and thirty-seven minutes late.
She wasn't worried, not yet. Amy Harris wrote proper letters, on real, old-fashioned writing paper, thick and creamy. There wasn't a chance in the world that someone who wrote on proper, cream-colored writing paper would abandon a friend in a strange town or turn out to be a psychopathic serial killer with sadomasochistic tendencies, regardless of what Sara's mother said.
"Excuse me, honey."
A woman had stopped beside her. She gave Sara an artificially patient look.
"Can I help you with anything?" the woman asked. A brown paper bag full of food was resting on her hip, a can of Campbell's tomato soup teetering perilously close to the edge.
"No, thank you," said Sara. "I'm waiting for someone."
"Sure." The woman's tone was amused and indulgent. The women sitting outside the café were following the whole conversation with interest. "First time in Hope?"
"I'm on my way to Broken Wheel."
Maybe it was just Sara's imagination, but the woman didn't seem at all satisfied with that answer.
The can of soup wobbled dangerously. After a moment, the woman said, "It's not much of a town, I'm afraid, Broken Wheel. Do you know someone there?"
"I'm going to stay with Amy Harris."
"I'm sure she's on her way," said Sara.
"Seems like you've been abandoned here, honey." The woman looked expectantly at Sara. "Go on, call her."
Sara reluctantly pulled her phone out again. When the strange woman pressed up against Sara's ear to listen to the ringing tone, she had to stop herself from shrinking back.
"Doesn't seem to me like she's going to answer."
Sara put the phone back in her pocket, and the woman moved away a little.
"What're you planning on doing there?"
"Have a holiday. I'm going to rent a room."
"And now you've been abandoned here. That's a good start. I hope you didn't pay in advance." The woman shifted the paper bag over to her other arm and snapped her fingers in the direction of the seats outside the café. "Hank," she said loudly to the only man sitting there. "Give this girl here a ride to Broken Wheel, OK?"
"I haven't finished my coffee."
"So take it with you then."
The man grunted but got obediently to his feet and disappeared into the café.
"If I were you," the woman continued, "I wouldn't hand over any money right away. I'd pay just before I went home. And I'd keep it well hidden until then." She nodded so violently that the can of tomato soup teetered worryingly again. "I'm not saying everyone in Broken Wheel is a thief," she added for safety's sake, "but they're not like us."
Hank came back with his coffee in a paper cup, and Sara's suitcase and backpack were thrown onto the backseat of his car. Sara was guided carefully but firmly to the front seat.
"Go on, give her a ride over, Hank," said the woman, hitting the roof of the car twice with her free hand. She leaned toward the open window. "You can always come back here if you change your mind."
• • •
"So, Broken Wheel," Hank said disinterestedly.
Sara clasped her hands on top of her book and tried to look relaxed. The car smelled of cheap aftershave and coffee.
"What're you going to do there?"
He shook his head.
"As a holiday," she explained.
"We'll see, I guess," Hank said ominously.
She watched the scenery outside the car window change. Lawns became fields, the glittering cars disappeared, and the neat little houses were replaced by an enormous wall of corn looming up on either side of the road, which stretched straight out ahead for miles. Every now and then it was intersected by other roads, also perfectly straight, as though someone had, at some point, looked out over the enormous fields and drawn the roads in with a ruler. As good a method as any, Sara thought. But as they drove on, the other roads became fewer and fewer until it felt as though the only thing around them was mile after mile of corn.
"Can't be much of a town left," said Hank. "A friend of mine grew up there. Sells insurance in Des Moines now."
She didn't know what she was meant to say to that. "That's nice," she tried.
"He likes it," the man agreed. "Much better than trying to run the family farm in Broken Wheel, that's for sure."
And that was that.
Sara looked out of the car window, searching for the town of Amy's letters. She had heard so much about Broken Wheel that she was almost expecting Miss Annie to come speeding past on her delivery bicycle at any moment or Robert to be standing at the side of the road, waving the latest edition of his magazine in the air. For a moment, she could practically see them before her, but then they grew faint and whirled away into the dust behind the car. Instead, a battered-looking barn appeared, only to be immediately hidden from view once more by the corn, as though it had never been there in the first place. It was the only building she had seen in the last fifteen minutes.
Would the town look the way she had imagined it? Now that she was finally about to see it with her own eyes, Sara had even forgotten her anxiety about Amy not answering the phone.
But when they eventually arrived, she might have missed it entirely if Hank hadn't pulled over. The main street was nothing more than a few buildings on either side of the road. Most of them seemed to be empty, gray, and depressing. A few of the shops had boarded-up windows, but a diner still appeared to be open.
"So what d'you want to do?" Hank asked. "You want a ride back?"
She glanced around. The diner was definitely open. The word Diner was glowing faintly in red neon letters, and a lone man was sitting at the table closest to the window. She shook her head.
"Whatever you want," Hank said in a tone that implied "You'll only have yourself to blame."
She climbed out of the car and pulled her luggage out from the backseat, her paperback shoved under her arm. Hank drove off the moment she closed the door. He made a sharp U-turn at the only traffic light in town.
It was hanging from a cable in the middle of the street, and it was shining red.
• • •
Sara stood in front of the diner with the suitcase at her feet, her backpack slung over one shoulder, and one hand firmly clutching her book.
It's all going to be fine, she said to herself. Everything will work out. This is not a catastrophe... She backtracked. As long as she had books and money, nothing could be a catastrophe. She had enough money to check in to a hostel if she needed to. Though she was fairly sure there wouldn't be a hostel in Broken Wheel.
She pushed open the doors-only to be confronted by a set of real saloon doors, how ridiculous-and went in. Other than the man by the window and a woman behind the counter, the diner was empty. The man was thin and wiry, his body practically begging forgiveness for his very existence. He didn't even look up when she came in, just continued turning his coffee cup in his hands, slowly around and around.
The woman, on the other hand, immediately directed all her attention toward the door. She weighed at least three hundred pounds and her huge arms were resting on the high counter in front of her. It was made from dark wood and wouldn't have looked out of place in a bar, but instead of beer coasters, there were stainless-steel napkin holders and laminated menus with pictures of the various rubbery-looking types of food the diner served.
The woman lit a cigarette in one fluid movement.
"You must be the tourist," she said. The smoke from her cigarette hit Sara in the face. It had been years since Sara had seen anyone in Sweden smoking in a restaurant. Clearly they did things differently here.
"I'm Sara. Do you know where Amy Harris lives?"
The woman nodded. "One hell of a day." A lump of ash dropped from her cigarette and landed on the counter. "I'm Grace," she said. "Or truth be told, my name's Madeleine. But there's no point calling me that."
Sara hadn't been planning on calling her anything at all.
"And now you're here."
Sara had a definite feeling that Grace-who-wasn't-really-called-Grace was enjoying the moment, drawing it out. Grace nodded three times to herself, took a deep drag of her cigarette, and let the smoke curl slowly upward from one corner of her mouth. She leaned over the counter.
"Amy's dead," she said.
• • •
In Sara's mind, Amy's death would forever be associated with the glow of fluorescent strip lighting, cigarette smoke, and the smell of fried food. It was surreal. Here she was, standing in a diner in a small American town, being told that a woman she had never met had died. The whole situation was much too dreamlike to be scary, much too odd to be a nightmare.
"Dead?" Sara repeated. An extraordinarily stupid question, even for her. She slumped onto a bar stool. She had no idea what to do now. Her thoughts drifted back to the woman in Hope, and she wondered whether she should have gone back with Hank after all.
Amy can't be dead, Sara thought. She was my friend. She liked books, for God's sake.
It wasn't quite grief that Sara was feeling, but she was struck by how fleeting life was, and the odd feeling grew. She had come to Iowa from Sweden to take a break from life-to get away from it, even-but not to meet death.
How had Amy died? One part of her wanted to ask; another didn't want to know.
Grace continued before Sara had time to make up her mind. "The funeral's probably in full swing. Not particularly festive things nowadays, funerals. Too much religious crap if you ask me. It was different when my grandma died." She glanced at the clock. "You should probably head over there now, though. I'm sure someone who knew her better'll know what to do with you. I try to avoid getting drawn into this town's problems, and you're definitely one of them."
She stubbed out her cigarette. "George, will you give Sara here a ride to Amy's house?"
The man by the window looked up. For a moment, he looked as paralyzed as Sara felt. Then he got to his feet and half carried, half dragged her bags to the car.
Grace grabbed Sara's elbow as she started off after him. "That's Poor George," she said, nodding toward his back.
• • •
Amy Harris's house was a little way out of town. It was big enough that the kitchen and living room seemed fairly spacious, but small enough that the little group that had congregated there after the funeral made it seem full. The table and kitchen counters were covered with baking dishes full of food, and someone had prepared bowls of salad and bread, laid out cutlery, and arranged napkins in drinking glasses.
Sara was given a paper plate of food and then left more or less to herself. George was still by her side, and she was touched by that unexpected display of loyalty. He didn't seem to be a particularly brave person at all, not even compared to her, but he had followed her in, and now he was walking around just as hesitantly as she was.
In the dim hallway there was a dark chest of drawers on which someone had arranged a framed photograph of a woman she assumed must be Amy and two worn-looking flags, the one of the United States and the other of Iowa. Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain, the state flag proclaimed in embroidered white letters, but the flag was faded and one of the edges was frayed.
The woman in the photograph was perhaps twenty years old, with her hair pulled into two thin braids and a standard issue, stiff camera smile. She was a complete stranger. There might have been something in her eyes, a glimmer of laughter that showed she knew it was all a joke, that Sara could recognize from her letters. But that was all.
She wanted to reach out and touch the photograph, but doing that felt much too forward. Instead, she stayed where she was in the dark hallway, carefully balancing her paper plate, her book still under her arm. Her bags had disappeared somewhere, but she didn't have the energy to worry about them.
Three weeks earlier, she had felt so close to Amy that she had been prepared to stay with her for two months, but now it was as though every trace of their friendship had died along with her. Sara had never believed that you had to meet someone in person to be friends-many of her most rewarding relationships had been with people who didn't even exist-but suddenly it all felt so false, disrespectful even, to cling to the idea that she and Amy had, in some way, meant something to each other.
All around her, people were moving slowly and cautiously through the rooms, as though they were wondering what on earth they were doing there, which was almost exactly what Sara was thinking too. Still, they didn't seem shocked. They didn't seem surprised. No one was crying.
Most of them were looking at Sara with curiosity, but something, perhaps respect for the significance of the event, was stopping them from approaching her. They circled around her instead, smiling whenever she accidentally caught their eye.
Suddenly, a woman materialized out of the crowd and cornered Sara halfway between the living room and the kitchen.
Her posture and handshake were military, but she was much more beautiful than Sara had imagined. She had deep, almond-shaped eyes and features as pronounced as a statue's. In the glow of the ceiling lamp, her skin was an almost shimmering white across her high cheekbones. Her hair was thick and streaked with gray. Around her neck, she wore a black scarf made from thin, cool silk that would have looked out of place on anyone else, even at a funeral, but on her it looked timeless-almost glamorous.
Her age was hard to guess, but she had the air of someone who had never really been young. Sara had a strong sense that Caroline Rohde didn't have much time for youth.
When Caroline started talking, everyone around her fell silent. Her voice matched her presence: determined, resolute, straight to the point. There was, perhaps, a hint of a welcoming smile in her voice, but it never reached as far as her mouth.
"Amy said you'd be coming," she said. "I won't claim I thought it was a good idea, but it wasn't my place to say anything." Then she added, almost as an afterthought, "You've got to agree that this isn't the most...practical situation."
"Practical," Sara echoed. Though how Amy was meant to know she was going to die, she wasn't sure.
Others gathered around Caroline in a loose half circle, facing Sara as if she were a traveling circus making a brief stop in town.
"We didn't know how to contact you when Amy...passed away. And now you're here," Caroline concluded. "Oh well, we'll just have to see what we can do with you."
"I'm going to need somewhere to stay," said Sara. Everyone leaned forward to hear.
"Stay?" asked Caroline. "You'll stay here, of course! I mean, the house is empty, isn't it?"
A man in a minister's collar smiled warmly at Sara, adding, "Amy specifically told us to let you know that nothing would change in that regard."
Nothing would change? She didn't know who was madder-the minister or Amy or the whole of Broken Wheel.
"There's a guest room, of course," said Caroline. "Sleep there tonight, and then we'll work out what we're going to do with you."
The minister nodded, and somehow it was decided. She would stay, alone, in dead Amy Harris's empty house.
She was bustled upstairs. Caroline went first, like a commander at war, followed closely by Sara and then George, a supportive, silent shadow. Behind them, most of the other guests followed. Someone was carrying her bags, she didn't know who, but when she reached the little guest room, her backpack and suitcase miraculously appeared.
"We'll make sure you've got everything you need," Caroline said from the doorway, not at all unkindly. Then she shooed the others away, giving Sara a brief wave before pulling the door closed behind her.
Sara sank onto the bed, suddenly alone again, the paper plate still in her hand and a lonely book lying abandoned on the bedspread next to her.
Oh hell, she thought.
Table of Contents
Books 1–Life 0,
The Broken Wheel Newsletter,
It Is a Truth Universally Acknowledged That a Swedish Tourist in Iowa Must Be in Want of a Man,
Asphalt and Concrete,
A Tourist in Their Town,
Books and People,
Comfort in Bridget Jones,
Favors and Return Favors,
A Bookshop in Their Midst,
George's Theory about the Economic Crisis,
Caroline Organizes a Collection. Again.,
A Different Kind of Shop,
A Town Dying,
Fox & Sons,
To Read or Not to Read, That Is the Question,
On Romance (Books 2–Life 0),
The Commitment of Trees,
What's in a Name?,
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend,
Caroline 0–Books 3,
Not a Date,
Broken Wheel Gets Ready for the Market,
The Small Matter of a Visa,
Run-of-the-Mill Chick Lit (Books 3–Life 1),
A Lawyer Gets Involved,
An Unexpected Offer,
Grace and Idgie's Friendship Is Put to the Test,
People and Principles,
The Book of Books,
The Comfort of Candide,
Good Times Never Seemed So Good,
A Book for Everyone,
Not Something You Talk About,
For the Good of the City,
The Smell of Books and Adventure,
Nothing to Tell,
A Conspiracy Is Suspected,
Just for Sex,
Mrs. Hurst (Books 4–Life 0),
Amy Harris Gets Involved, through a Representative,
The Darkness Catches Up with George,
Broken Wheel Drowns Its Sorrows,
Broken Wheel Has a Headache,
If Anyone Knows of Any Reason ...,
Broken Wheel's Next Foreign Correspondent,
A Conspiracy Is Admitted,
Epilogue: Happily Ever After (Books 4–Life 4. Final Score: a Draw),
Books, Authors, and Series Mentioned in The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend,
Reading Group Guide,
A Conversation with the Author,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A wonderful story of friendships near and far and the power of a booklover to change her life and the life of a small Iowa town. I highly recommend this lovely story. The secondary characters add depth, especially Amy who dies before Sara arrives from Sweden to visit!
What a fun book to read even through the melancholy bits! As a long time bookseller, I certainly understand Amy and Sara bonding over books as I have made friends over the years by recommending to like minded readers. And I love that Sara, who saw herself as this plain little thing that no one could love, especially handsome Tom, (so Jane Eyre) was actually very brave in leaving everything she knew to strike out on her own little adventure. Like stepping out of the pages of her private diary to rewrite a more exciting memoir for herself. For such a drab and dying town, Broken Wheel, Iowa has an extraordinary cast of citizens: the striking Caroline who props up the town but fears taking a wrong step that will destroy her image; "poor George" who survived the disappearance of his daughter when his wife abandoned him, the loss of his job, conquered his alcoholism, and is the most loyal of friends; Jen and Andy, the weirdest set of matchmaker/tourism developers; John and Tom, the two men Amy loved and left behind, and Madeleine "Grace" who can cook a mean burger, bake a tasty cake, and hold her liquor and a gun with a strong and nearly steady hand. I wish there were a Broken Wheel and that I could book a trip through its tourism agency probably run by Jen. We could have a meal at Amazing Grace, ogle Carl and maybe dance down at the Square in a dress purchased at Madame Higgins' Boutique. But mostly I just want to peruse the shelves of the Oak Tree, maybe purchase something from the For Friday Nights & Lazy Sundays category, but definitely a couple of titles from the Sex, Violence, and Weapons shelves. Then I'd curl up in one of those donated armchairs in the shop window and try my best to beat Sara's reading record.
This book is definetly for book lovers. I really liked how the reader was able to get to know the whole town.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald, was first released in the author's native Sweden in 2013, and has now been released in dozens of countries, including that of its setting, Broken Wheel, Iowa, USA. This is a most unusual love story, beginning with the love of books and reading. This love transcends distance and age, bringing Sara Lindqvist, avid reader and bookshop clerk, to meet her dear elderly pen-friend Amy Harris, of Broken Wheel. Having lost her job when the bookshop in her native Haninge, Sweden, closes, Sara is at loose ends and decides that this is the time for a bit of an adventure by traveling to Broken Wheel to meet Amy. Their plans are made and Sara follows the plan, taking the bus from the airport to nearby Hope and then waiting for Amy to collect her. When Sara has waited by the little cafe for hours and is unable to reach Amy by phone, a resident of Hope begrudgingly takes Sara to Broken Wheel and leaves her in front of the diner. Diner owner Grace is the one to tell Sara why Amy did not get her--Amy is dead! Sara finds the generosity of this quirky little town's residents a bit overwhelming. They have put her up in Amy's guest room, will not allow her to pay for coffee, a burger, or a bottle of beer, and are all concerned with her well being. It is when she learns of the unoccupied storefront Amy owned that Sara hatches the plan to share the legacy of Amy's books with these people. With the help of the cast of town characters, Sara transforms the storefront into the Oak Tree Bookstore and begins getting the locals interested in reading by handing out free books, matching the story to the person it is given to. In the ensuing weeks, the citizens of Broken Wheel fall in love with Sara, and Sara returns the feelings. At long last she has a sense of belonging, a niche she can comfortably fill. And the spark of the "tourist" creates change in a small, dying Midwest farm town. At the same time, her feelings for one particular resident are growing but her life experience has taught her to have no expectations. As the time draws near for her visa to expire and her return ticket ready to use, the unofficial town council hatches a plan to keep Sara in Broken Wheel. And they plan to sacrifice the object of her affections to do so. Join Sara in her visit to this whimsical little town. You will fall in love with her and the residents of Broken Wheel just the way I did.
I found that I couldn't put the book down. I was cheering for Sara and Broken Wheel the entire time. The cast of characters were fantastic and I loved getting to know about them and their lives throughout the book.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is the first novel by Swedish author, Katarina Bivald. After some years of correspondence with Amy Harris, Sara Lindqvist, until recently employed at Josephsson’s Bokhandel, has come from Sweden for a vacation visit to Broken Wheel, Iowa. The first problem is that Amy has just died. The second is that, while she is staying in Amy’s guest room, no one will accept her rental payment. The third problem is that no one in Broken Wheel will let her pay for anything. And Sara can see that this run-down, dying town really can’t afford a free-loading tourist, nor does she want to be one. But Sara and Amy shared a love of books, so Sara gets an idea of something she can do for the town. It’s fairly obvious where this is going… With help from the townsfolk, Sara cleans up a dusty shop and turns it into a bookstore. People come from nearby towns, a bit of derision leads to some fun literary antics, and Sara has the town’s residents (and others) reading. Along the way, Sara meets, and gets to personally know, all those quirky folk that Amy wrote about. But Sara’s visa is going to run out, and the town soon cooks up a scheme to hold onto this tourist they would like to keep. Bivald’s charming debut novel is a tale about books and bookstores, but also about small towns and the special people that inhabit them, in this case from a Swedish perspective. There’s definitely a touch of Debbie Macomber here: while Bivald manages to include some unconventional pairings, this is a feel-good tale that will be especially enjoyed by booklovers and those who love happy endings. Flawlessly translated from Swedish by Alice Menzies, this one is likely to be Recommended by the Readers of Broken Wheel.
A happy ending...when you need one
Wonderful first novel!
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald takes place in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Sara Lindqvist has decided to visit her pen pal Amy Harris. They got to know each other through an online secondhand book shop. They then started writing to each other and sharing books. When the store where Sara worked went out of business, Sara was convinced by Amy to come and visit. When Sara arrives in Broken Wheel she finds out that Amy has passed away (and today is her funeral). Everyone is very friendly though and convince Sara that she should stay (in Amy’s house). It is what Amy would have wanted. Sara decides to stay (since she is already there). Broken Wheel is a dying town, but they all look out for each other and take care of Sara. No one will let Sara pay for anything. Sara wants to find a way to repay their kindness. Amy owned a store in town that is sitting empty. Sara decides to take Amy’s books and set up a shop (she really just wants to help people with books). Sara wants to show the townspeople the wonderful world of books. Broken Wheel is a place where Sara finally feels comfortable (can be herself). But what will happen when it is time for Sara to go back to Sweden? The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a story about two people who love books. They like talking about books, reading books, and they want to share it with their friends (and anyone they can). I thought this would be a wonderful book (as I love books), but the story is really quite boring. I never connected with the characters. This novel really dragged on and on (I have to admit that I might have skimmed a little during the middle). The way it is written is awkward (it is the best word to describe it). The novel does get better towards the last third (if you can make it that far and stay awake). I enjoyed the townspeople’s meddling (the last part of the book) and how Sara brought life back to Broken Wheel. I give The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend 2.5 out of 5 stars. The premise is good, but the characters just did not come to life for me (nor did the story). I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I really, really enjoyed this book. I guess it could be called chick-lit, drama and there is even humour in it. Sarah lives in Sweden. Not sure how it happened, but she began a penpal relationship with Amy, a senior citizen in Broken Wheel Iowa. Broken Wheel is almost a ghost town with a few die-hard residents and businesses that do not really make any money. Everyone has moved to Hope, a half hour away. When Amy invites Sarah to visit, she agrees and heads off to America. When she arrives, Amy is dead, but the townspeople want her to stay. They also want her to stay in Amy's house, because that is what Amy would have wanted. The townspeople will not let her pay for anything, groceries, coffee, meals, beer etc. They are also trying to fix her up with Tom, Amy's nephew. When Sarah stumbles upon Amy's library, she comes up with the idea that she will pay the townspeople back by opening a bookstore. That is when things start to happen. The town starts to come alive and the people start to have fun again. Tom, Andy, Carl, Josh, Caroline, Jen, George, John and others round out the cast in this story and they are delightful. A little romance, a little law breading, a lot of friendship and reading, add to this story. By the time I finished this book, I thought of these people as my friends and was rooting for them to have happy endings. This is a wonderful story about people, books and reading and a town that was brought back to life. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The greatest adventure of Sara Lindquist’s life is to visit her fellow book-loving, pen pal in Iowa, but unfortunately for Sara, she arrives too late. The elderly Amy has passed away, and Sara arrives just in time for the funeral. Sara has lead a quiet, uneventful life, and with the loss of her job, working in a bookstore in her homeland of Sweden, she seems to have lost her sense of direction and purpose as well. Now, here she is, stuck in this sleepy town… Broken Wheel is a sad, neglected town in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by Iowa corn, great oaks and not much else. A vacation there, where she knows no one, is not what most people would consider fun, but for Sara, it turns out to be a life-changing adventure, and not only for her, but for the townsfolk, as well. Having a foreign stranger in their midst gives the townsfolk something to focus on outside of their dull, bored lives. They feel responsible to welcome and entertain Sara in Amy’s stead. In gratitude, Sara decides to open a bookstore in the hopes of introducing them to books and opening their minds to new possibilities. Eventually, their lives change in ways they never could have imagined. As it all come to a head, what will happen to Sara, will love be found? acceptance? This is an easy, cozy read that celebrates the love of reading. I especially loved the mention of different books along the way and Sara’s views on them. As a book-lover, I found myself reminiscing about favorite titles and even discovered a new book or two I’d like to read. I experienced the feeling of being a part of Sara’s and Amy’s book club.
I really don’t know where to start with this review. This was a wonderful book, one of the best I have read in some time. It was hard for me to review, as I am not sure I have the words to do it justice. Ms. Bivald’s talent is obvious as you read this story; you will feel come to love this town and the residents. Sara Lindqvist from Sweden has corresponded with Amy Harris of Broken Wheel, Iowa for two years. A wonderful friendship sprang from an Internet sale of a book. They are book lovers of the first order, exchanging books and Amy gave Sara the history of Broke Wheel and its residents through her letters which you will get to read. Amy has extended an invitation to Sara for a two-month visit. Sara a repressed shy young woman is out of step with the world and lives through her books. Her books are safe, life can be wonderful, exciting, and fulfilling in her books. Ms. Bivald expertly created an insecure, out of step character in Sara. As she and Amy have a similar heart for books and Sara feels she knows everyone in Broken Wheel from Amy’s letters. Sara accepts the invitation to visit only to find Amy has died; she arrived on the day of her funeral. While staying at Amy’s house, Sarah discovers a library of possibly thousands of books in Amy’s bedroom. This find was an inspiration for Sara and the setting for this wonderful story. This small town bands together around Sara trying to decide what to do with her. Ms. Bivald created a town is full of characters with loving and giving hearts and her characters have the best of human traits, if a little flawed. She shows now a dying town can come together to recreate its self in a wonderful way. Poor George who’s wife left him, Grace a strong woman who carries around a shotgun at times owns the only diner in town, Jen the resident blogger and newsletter author, Caroline Rohde the resident take charge person, Andy and Carl the town’s gay couple run the local bar, John the only black person in town runs the grocery combination hardware store, Tom nominated as Sara's boyfriend. Ms. Bivald wove a wonderful story of a dying town, with few people and little money using the barter system, all have big hearts and stuck in their ways, all have history together; there are still a few secrets in this small town. Ms. Bivald shows how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of the residents of Broken Wheel and inspire each one. Ms. Bivald brings romance with the character Tom, showing his wonder of Sara’s personality and wondering what it is about Sara that intrigues him. There is a hilarious episode with Carl, just a hint, it was so funny, and then there was the problem of Sara’s visa running out, never fear Broken Wheel’s citizens have it all under control; this is a wonderful book of a town coming alive and its people. At times I chuckled, I smiled, felt infinitely sad, I cried, I sighed, I laughed out loud, and just thoroughly enjoyed the town of Broken Wheel. I almost felt I was a member of the town by the end of the book. Ms. Bivald has the ability to transport you into the story. She shows how we can come out of our shells and become a living breathing person with purpose. There is lot going on in Broken Wheel, did someone say this was a dying town? It has a winner of an ending and I loved it, the government doesn’t always win, especially against Broken Wheel, a town united! Don't miss this book. Ms. Bivald’s character development was spot on and the pacing was perfect. I hig
I read this with our book club. It was "eh". The characters do not have enough substance and the plot is very boringly predictable. The book does not make me want to read the author's additional books.
Just couldn't finish it.
Easy, fun-loving, enjoyable read. Predictable happy endings, but that's just what you want sometimes.
Absolutely loved this book!
Really good book
Such a lovely story! Book lovers will immediately relate to Sara, whose charm and determination to bring books to the small town of Broken Wheel is admirable. Also, for anyone who has lived or is a fan of small town life will enjoy the quirky townsfolk revolving around Sara and her dreams.
This book wants to be good. It reads like the first draft of a story outline. It's just not quite there, just not enough substance. The characters aren't fully developed and struggle to keep pace with the plot. But it's readable in a detached way.
Sara is from Sweden and she has traveled a long way to Broken Wheel, Iowa, in order to meet her pen pal, Amy. Amy described a lovely town, yet Sara is surprised at the actual dilapidated conditions of this small place. Sara is also caught off guard by the news of her friend’s passing. The people of Broken Wheel are friendly, but they aren’t readers. Sara decides to share her love of reading with the town, so she opens a bookstore in her friend’s honor. Slowly but surely, Sara and the books win over the residents and this small town begins to feel alive again. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend starts out slow, but builds into a delightful story that will reside in book lovers’ hearts forever. Readers will be able to easily relate to Sara’s need to read, her deep soul-craving desire to have a book in her hand. Reading addicts will chuckle as they read about familiar scenarios that they have experienced in the past. Bivald has done a wonderful job at truly showing the inner desires of a bookworm. This is a cute, quirky read that must be on every reader’s bookshelf. Notes: This review was written for Ariesgrl Book Reviews, My Sister's Books, and Sasee Magazine.
Imagine going to a different country to visit a person that you have come to know through written letters, only to learn once you got there that she has passed away... That would put a small damper on your vacation, don't you think? This is exactly what happens to Sara. Sara corresponded for a good while with Amy before deciding to visit Amy in America...and then when she got there she learned that Amy passed away. However, instead of turning around and going home, the rest of the small town of Broken Wheel insist that Sara stays in Amy's home and takes it upon themselves to host her. Amy and Sara shared a love of books and so Sara decides to open up a small bookstore in the town of Broken Wheel to remember Amy. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is like reading a Hallmark Channel movie. So, if you like those movies, you will like this book. That being said, this book is also as predictable as a Hallmark Channel movie.... The characters were not my favorite. A lot of them fell sort of flat for me. And a lot of their growth was rather predictable. Almost everyone in town was friendly with one another. You had your busybodies that tried to control all things and everyone that lived within the small dying town of Broken Wheel. There were the characters that were afraid of change and the ones that wanted change. All in all, it was just very very predictable. And Sara. I just couldn't really believe her situation. Then again, I normally don't fall prey to Hallmark Channel movie plot lines either. And everything happens so quickly which only lead more to my not being able to really get into this story and fall in love with it. And I did want to. I really did. And since it is just like a Hallmark Channel movie, the plot is pretty much something you can expect. You know who love interests are for who, you know who is out to ruin who, you know whats coming next and you pretty much will be able to guess the end within the first 10 minutes. I know some people out there really enjoy light and fluffy reads and movies like those that appear on the Hallmark Channel. I, however, am just not really one of those people. My Rating 2 Stars This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts are my own. Find more of my reviews here: http://readingwithcupcakes.blogspot.com/
Sara stood with a copy of An Old Fashioned Girl . She looked like she wasn’t paying attention to anything but her book but in reality she could describe things all around her. Sara was to stay with Amy Harris. A man- Hank gave Sara a ride to Broken Wheel, Sara went in the diner to ask of Amy. Grace- the woman behind the counter told Sara Amy Harris was dead and the funeral was today. George gave Sara a ride to Amy’s house Sara was suppose to stay with Amy for two months. Sara’s mom had complained she never did anything but read. Now Sara had come from Sweden and Amy is dead and she was alone in Amy’s house as she was told she could stay there. All the people of Broken Wheel wanted to take care of Sara and she felt she must pay them back. So Sara starts a book store . Only problem is no one likes to read. So Sara works on getting the right book to the right person while the town works on getting Sara out of her books. Then Sara meets Amy’s nephew Tom. I loved how the town wanted Sara to become one of them and not just live for books. I enjoyed this story and I felt like I was there in Broken Wheel. Some of the town’s characters were a little different but I enjoyed that. I liked the plot and I liked the ins and outs of this story. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.