My church book club, Page Turners, is an eclectic group with eclectic reading tastes. The selections from this group have challenged and stretched my reading habits — a very good thing! In January we discussed The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by debut author Katarina Bivald. Very well-written, this novel explores the influence of books on people. What a great choice for a book club! I very much enjoyed the many, many references to novels I have read or should read. I loved how the townspeople of Broken Wheel become engaged in life again after Sara from Sweden introduces them to her friends, books. The image of poor George reading chic lit including the Bridget Jones series still brings a chuckle. And I loved Grace’s new found friend Idgie whom she references while making outrageous statements and actions.
In an interview I read, Bivald states that she had never visited the US before writing this book, a deliberate act in creating small town America as she wanted to see it. That’s fine. Broken Wheel is a town to love and long to visit, even as it does not really represent the real America. Two characters in particular are stereotypical, and according to one of my group’s members who has a daughter living in England, are in line with European imaginations. These people of faith are written as ineffectual and irrelevant in a modern world. Caroline is the one who gets things done in Broken Wheel, and her religious expression is more works than faith based. I get that. We see that all the time in the church. However, her new found freedom comes after she reads a gay erotica novel given her by Sara. It is true that both the Pastor and Caroline are examples of irrelevant and unrealistic faith, but I blame their creator (Bivald) more than how real faith looks.
So these are my thoughts on the best-selling The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Have your read it? What did you think?
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 visitor ― there’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.
A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.
Please note: this book is not Christian fiction and has content that may be offensive.
(I bought this novel from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)