Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.
But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.
Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.
I have to admit I was attracted to this book because of its beautiful cover and because it’s a book about books and a book store; what’s not to love?
Sara finds herself without a host as she arrives in Broken Wheel as she learns of her pen pal’s death but the residents of the town soon rally around her to make her feel welcome and encourage her to stay. Scattered among the chapters you’ll find Amy and Sara’s correspondence and from this we discover more about Amy’s experiences and friends in Broken Wheel; a small town that seems to have lost its way in the wake of Amy’s death and are just waiting for an outsider; someone with a different take on life to come and lift them.
However, this small town is a town without readers and they find Sara a little odd to say the least because she seems to prefer books to people and that she reads so much. Although they all seem to come round to Sara’s way of thinking in the end.
“There’s always a person for every book. And a book for every person.”
My favourite parts were all the literary references and the fact that this small town comes alive and starts to thrive following the opening of the book shop and the buzz and positivity that it creates. The books are what brought this book alive for me.
I particularly liked the part about the book snobbery, having seen quite a bit of this in social media recently. The author seems to have picked up on it so it comes as no surprise to learn that she has a book shop background.
There’s quite a variety of characters in this book; but other than Sara I didn’t find myself gelling with any of them which left me feeling a little underwhelmed. This isn’t an action packed page turner, much more slow paced, just like life in Broken Wheel but this book is packed with things all book readers and bloggers will relate to and like.
“Can you smell it? The scent of new books. Unread adventures. Friends you haven’t met yet, hours of magical escapism awaiting you.”
It was great to see The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society mentioned as this is a new found favourite of mine. As a side note, I must check out 84 Charing Cross Road which is one of the books mentioned. On the whole, it’s a very sweet read that book lovers will cherish.
Many thanks to the publisher Chatto & Windus for approving me for a copy via Netgalley (and very kindly sending me a gorgeous hard copy!)
Connect with the author Katarina Bivald