The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is the story of Sara, a young woman who travels from Sweden to the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal, Amy. On arriving in Broken Wheel, Sara finds the residents of the town departing Amy’s funeral. Despite this unexpected turn of events, Sara stays on in the town and turns it upside down with her love of books. Before long, Broken Wheel and its inhabitants find a new lease on life, while Sara herself discovers that not all people outside of her beloved books are as bad as she believes.

Sometimes you read a book that feels like it’s enveloping you in a big hug; you sit there reading and everything just feels cosy and oh so right with the world. Then you finish and you’re happy because you’ve just read a really nice book that helped shut out reality for a while. This is what reading Katarina Bivald’s The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is like for me. There is nothing spectacular about it and nothing that causes me to ponder the wide world and reflect on my own mortality. That’s why I love it, because it is a book I could escape into, which is what we avid readers need sometimes to cleanse our minds.

The main character, Sara, constantly has her face stuck in a book and isn’t a big fan of people in general. Her love of the written word rivals any of literature’s great love stories and anyone who has a preference for reading over socialising will no doubt see a little of themselves in her. Despite the storyline being fairly predictable, I found comfort in it and there are enough unexpected moments from the rest of the characters to keep things interesting. The supporting characters themselves are another highlight in this book; from Grace who all but demands to be the town outcast, to George the recovering alcoholic who, it turns out, has a penchant for chick-lit.

Bivald’s writing is incredibly enjoyable to read, and on more than one occasion I found myself laughing out loud, usually at Sara’s social awkwardness or some incredibly acute observations about readers and the non-readers lives:

Without realizing it, she was clutching her jacket pocket, where she had shoved a paperback just to be on the safe side. She didn’t think she could really take it out, even though Tom obviously had no desire to talk to her. People were strange like that. They could be completely uninterested in you, but the moment you picked up a book, you were the one being rude.

There are plenty of other moments like this scattered throughout the book that any reader will be able to relate to and it’s clear from these that Bivald is one of those writers who also reads a lot, because only one such person would be able to make such relatable observations.

So if you’re feeling like your choice of reading lately has left you a little flat and you need a pick-me-up, this might just be the book for you. As I said, Sara’s story is at times a little predictable, but do we want or need to be surprised all the time? No, I don’t think so. Sometimes we need a little bit of comfort, a laugh, and some characters we can cosy up to.


Image Attribution: Goodreads