THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND
By: Katarina Bivald
Published: January 19, 2016
Readers love to read books about books.This book is written by a booklover for booklovers. Reading it will rekindle a love of reading, remind you of the community that books can create, and give you a whole new list of books you need to read. I don’t know how an author in Sweden could write a book about a small town in Iowa, but she accomplished it by including the spirit of family, community, friendship, and helpfulness that make our small Iowa towns so wonderful.
Amy Harris and Sara Lindqvist have struck up a relationship through letters. Amy is a resident of Broken Wheel, Iowa, and Sara a resident of Sweden. After many letters and sharing their favorite books with each other, Amy asks Sara to visit. When Sara arrives she finds out that her pen pal has died in the space of a letter and a journey across the ocean. Sara is left standing on Main Street in Broken Wheel, unsure of where to go or what to do. Like any small town, the residents come together to make Sara feel comfortable and welcome her to their community in Amy’s honor. Amy was a much loved and honored resident and has requested that Sara be well-taken care of. Sara moves into Amy’s home and decides to open a bookstore in Broken Wheel using Amy’s much-loved books. For a community that didn’t read and only had a bar, a diner, and a church, many of the residents thought she was crazy. But, when Sara starts encouraging reading with even the toughest residents, a love of books is the least amazing thing that happens. Sara transforms the town from “black and white to a technicolor bathed in sunlight“.
I loved the variety of characters that lived in Broken Wheel. Many of them were easily envisioned into my own community of residents and I could imagine us taking in a visitor like Sara in much the same way. Amy’s letters to Sara are spread throughout the story giving us the history of the many residents of Broken Wheel. We read of their struggles and triumphs and Sara feels like she knows them all when she arrives based on Amy’s descriptions. I think my favorite character was George, a recluse who became an alcoholic after his wife and daughter left him. He still talks to his daughter every day….in his mind. Sara’s visit brings him out of his home as he is assigned as her driver since she doesn’t have a license. My heart softened for George and I was rooting for a happy ending for him. Even though some of the side stories Bivald creates with the other characters become a bit rambling at times, you appreciate the friendships and community she is trying to create in the mind of the reader.
The author even used local news events to add to her story, including the immigration raid in Postville. But, if she was trying to write about a specific area, she needed to check the locations of some of her towns. Even though some were fictional, she mentioned Spencer, Cedar Rapids, and Cedar County as if they were all close together, with the fictional towns of Broken Wheel and Hope in between.
Sara was determined to get every resident of Broken Wheel reading. She believed strongly that there is always a person for every book. and a book for every person. Amy’s letters to Sara were a lifeline and now Amy’s books were a lifeline to Sara and the residents of Broken Wheel. This book is for readers who love quirky characters, a whimsical story, and the small-town coziness that Iowans create for visitors, as well as the communal love of a great story.
|Katarina Bivald – source|
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’s currently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unnecessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparently, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bathroom 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.
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