The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

Margaret recommends: The Readers of Broken Wheel recommend by Katarina Bivald

Sara Lindqvist, a Swede, arrives in a one-horse town in Iowa, America’s mid-west, expecting her pen friend, Amy Harris, to meet her. Instead she finds herself in the middle of Amy’s funeral surrounded by most of the townspeople except Poor George, the sole occupant of the town’s only diner, known as Grace’s, who gave her a lift to the house. Everyone leaves after insisting she has to stay in the house rent free.

Her relationship with Amy was founded on a love of books and she is surprised to find the house quite bare with not a single book. Later she finds the courage to go into Amy’s bedroom and finds a huge library of them.  A few days later while exploring the desolate town she comes upon a deserted shop and get the idea of opening a bookstore using Amy’s huge collection of books. The shop takes shape but has no customers – Broken Wheel citizens are very poor and not readers. Hope, the nearest bigger town, is more aspirational and its citizens look down on their neighbours. Sara decides to exploit this by enticing Hope people to come to the bookstore then has the even more interesting idea of making it look as if the townspeople are using the shop. Although she is known as The Tourist, a novelty in Broken Wheel and probably in most of the state, she quickly becomes accepted and liked. Her love of books and reading is legendary and she goes out of her way to find exactly the right book for everyone she meets.

This book is quirky and funny with an almost other worldly feel to it possibly because it is written by a Swede with a vivid imagination. Amy’s letters to Sara are scattered throughout and stretch from April 09 to August 011. They give a lot of insight into the people of the town. The story also dips into and out of other lives throughout so it has a kind of panoramic view. An impressive knowledge of books is shown throughout and linked to various characters finding the joys of reading and discovering other worlds as well as insights into themselves.

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