This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust.
It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them.
It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.
It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.
Three and a half stars: A cute, chick lit read with a cozy small town setting and interesting characters.
Sara sits outside the local coffee shop with her nose stuffed in a book, seemingly oblivious to the world around her. Yet, she is perfectly aware of her surroundings. As the minutes tick by, she tries to hide her anxiety. Where is Amy? Sara traveled all the way from Sweden to meet her pen pal, Amy, with whom she has been exchanging books and bookish letters for over two years. Sara plans on spending the next couple of months in Broken Wheel, Iowa, with Amy, reading and chatting about books. Unfortunately, Sara's plans are about to take a big unexpected turn. Will Sara get her reading vacation?
What I Liked:
- The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a light, cozy, feel good book perfect for those who are looking for a nice escape, especially during the long winter months. This book has an eclectic batch of characters, a cozy small town setting and lots and lots of books. It is perfect for book lovers.
- At first glance, the town of Broken Wheel is tired, worn out and dying, but there are a few individuals who refuse to let their little town die. Once Sara arrives, she is like a breath of reenergizing air, and she quietly rallies the people around her and before long, the town is up and limping. I loved how everyone in the town looked after one another, and how they quickly took in a stranger and looked after her. I always love a small town setting, and the folks in Broken Wheel definitely captured my heart.
- I loved the eclectic cast of characters. Each character is unique and they all contribute. I also liked that they weren't run of the mill. For instance, you have bad girl Grace, who actually has a big heart. There is Carolyn, the church lady and the town matriarch, who ends up opening her mind and heart, George, the recovering alcoholic, lost and struggling, Tom the quiet, handsome one not sure where he fits in. Claire, the tired, overworked single mother, Carl and Andy, a gay couple who run the bar, and Josh a bisexual who hasn't found himself. Then there is Sara, the tourist from Sweden. Sara is quiet, mousy and she prefers her books to real people. Somehow this cast of characters blends together and makes a fun story.
- The book store makes the story shine. Once Sara opens the small book store, things begin to happen. I liked watching the townsfolk, who are not readers, find their way to the store, and then they each find a book that is right for them. Slowly the store draws everyone together and changes them for the better. I loved the cozy confines of the bookstore. I could tell that the author was a reader as there were so many references to brilliant books, characters and stories. I loved all the bookish mentions.
- I enjoyed the different story lines. There is much more to the story than just Sara's thread, and I quickly found myself invested in the different townsfolk and their stories. I was pleased that most of them ended well, and I appreciated that they added extra depth to the story.
- I was glad that we got to know Amy through the letters she had written to Sara.
- The book ending is satisfactory and nice, even if it is a bit predictable. Still I was happy to see things end well for the characters I had grown to love.
And The Not So Much:
- I was disappointed with the situation with Amy. I felt cheated in that I didn't get to know her better. The letters allowed me a peek into her character, but I wanted more. I especially wanted more on her relationship with John.
- The romance is very subtle, and it was underwhelming. I felt too much like insta love. I wish the author had taken the time to develop it better. It just didn't work for me.
- In the beginning, I almost set the book aside because I was not connecting at all with Sara. She was mousy and didn't have a backbone at all. Thankfully, once she pulls her nose out of her books, she becomes very interesting, and I loved seeing her help the town with the bookstore.
- Even though I liked the ending, it felt a bit abrupt in comparison to the rest of the story. I think it needed an Epilogue to tie everything off. I would certainly like to see how things fare for Carolyn, Josh, George, Sophie and even Tom and Sara down the road.
Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a simple and pleasant chic lit read perfect for fans who love a small town setting and eclectic characters. I loved the bookstore and all things books. The romance is very subtle and a bit disappointing, but otherwise this is an entertaining read perfect for whiling away a wintery day.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.