I am two for two with the local library book club this year in finding the book selection to be subpar. In fact, I am on the fence whether I liked this one, or Everything I Never Told You the least. This one was just predictable and eyeroll worthy, whereas the other made me downright angry, so I think The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend will land the distinction of being not quite as bad as the book I liked least this year.
Sara Lundqvist is a young-ish Swedish woman who travels to America to try to have some sort of adventure. She lives a droll existence in Sweden, and recently fired from her job as a bookstore clerk has nothing really going on in her life. In recent history she had become the penpal of Amy, an older woman in Broken Wheel, Iowa, a mostly nondescript one diner town, and decides to take Amy up on her invitation to visit, read books, and enjoy small town life. But, and not really a spoiler, this is in chapter one, when Sara arrives, Amy has died. Womp. In fact, she shows up during the funeral. So, she is invited by some of the town people to stay in Amy’s house for free, and stay for the planned two months. Totally normal, amiright?
From here, she decides to use Amy’s substantial library to open and operate a bookstore for the town, and she is basically adopted by the townspeople, where she finally finds somewhere to belong. (Insert soaring heartstrings). And its pretty adorable at times, there is a fun scene when they watch her read for hours, she not noticing, and basically throw a quiet street party to watch her (it’s less creepy than it sounds).
Overall, reviews were mixed among book club members. We all sort of agreed that this book was predictable, superficial, and fluffy, but whether or not that was agreeable to you was where we differed. I was frustrated because I felt like the story had good bones and potential, but Bivald wrote about American small towns in caricature and there was no character development, or anyone more than one dimensional. In fact, there was barely any conflict to speak of. There is a single woman with nothing going on in her home country, and a handsome single dude. Literally nothing stopping them from getting them together. Instead of “will they/won’t they” the only question was, “why don’t they get on with it?”
It was not the worst I have read this year (as detailed in my opener) but just too paint by numbers for my taste. But if you are looking for some brain candy and are a reader at heart, then you may find this sentimental and heartwarming.