This is the first book of the year that is sure to make my best books of 2016 list! Loved, loved, loved. Seriously.
Sara works in a bookshop in Sweden. She has been pen pals – letters written on actual paper – with Amy, an older woman in Broken Wheel, Iowa, a tiny, depressed town. They met online and started swapping books and a friendship was formed.
Sadly, the bookshop closes, and Amy invites Sara to come for a nice, long visit, and she does. But when she arrives in Broken Wheel, she is just in time to attend Amy’s funeral. The small town begs her to stay, and makes her feel welcome.
Eventually Amy falls in love with the town, and with Tom, Amy’s nephew. But theirs is a relationship fraught with doubts, misunderstandings and a sort of apathetic malaise. The town is full of interesting characters which truly bring this novel to life; George, a recovering alcoholic whose wife and daughter have left him; Grace, who runs the town’s only diner; Andy, who owns the town’s bar; John, the grocer and only black man in town and several others.
Everyone is so kind to Sara that she wants to do something nice for the town, so in one of the boarded up old stores, she opens a bookstore, stocking it with all of Amy’s books. This is not a town of readers, but Sara is convinced that there is a book for every person and she sets out to prove it.
Filled with tiny excerpts of classics and contemporary books, and many literary references, this book will appeal to anyone who loves books. It is a charming read, reminiscent of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and I loved it. Don’t miss it!
1/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND by Katarina Bivald. Sourcebooks Landmark (January 19, 2016). ISBN 978-1492623441. 400p.