I love books about books. Not non-fiction critiques and essays on the importance of classics in a modern world. Those are fine. But what I love are books about ordinary people living ever so slightly extraordinary lives because they, like me, love books.
Katarina Bivald’s THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND is just such a book.
It’s a little bit fantastical, in the sense that I dream, dream of being able to do as Sara does in the book and up and travel to a tiny town in a foreign country for two months just because… well, books. It’s also a little bit real, in the sense that Sara from Sweden is just a girl looking for the place where she belongs, even if she doesn’t quite realize she doesn’t belong.
I feel like Sara’s kindred spirit, to quote Anne Shirley in L.M. Montgomery’s ANNE OF GREEN GABLES – something I think Sara would like, because I’m happiest with my nose in a book and the easiest friends to make are the ones on the pages of my books. But like Sara, I’ve met amazing people because I love books. I’ve met them online, like Sara and Amy do in Bivald’s novel. They aren’t people I ever would have known were it not for the modern convenience of instant global communication and the ancient convenience of words printed on paper to tell a story.
What Sara does, travelling from Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, is brave and courageous. The stuff the heroines in the books she loves would be proud of. She goes alone and is even more alone when she gets there. But it doesn’t stop her from effectively taking Broken Wheel under her wing and fixing what she, and Amy, agreed needed to be fixed. She doesn’t really see herself as something that needs fixed but Broken Wheel sees otherwise.
And “fixing” isn’t even the right word. I don’t know what the right word is. Sara would probably know. What I’m trying to say is that Sara and the residents of Broken Wheel see the hidden best in each other and, once they realize it’s hidden, they work hard to bring it out so that each of them can flourish.
It is a feel-good story, it is maybe chick lit, it is an easy read. But all that’s selling it short. It’s a story about people, fictional of course, who bond over fictional people, actual fictional people – if that makes sense, and are better for it.
That’s my kind of book!
(I received a copy of THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND through NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS in exchange for an honest and original review.)