"Sara the unemployed bookseller from Sweden arrives in the dying farm town of Broken Wheel to visit her beloved pen pal Amy, bonding with this woman, despite their difference in ages, over the love of books. There’s only one problem: when Sara arrives, Amy has died. The town suggests she stay in Amy’s old house anyway, and what’s a bookseller to do with time on her hands and a house full of books? I love the way Bivald plays with stock storytelling characters and plot twists in a clever way, drawing on the writerly sages of Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, Stieg Larsson and others to move the plot along. May-December romances, misunderstood characters, separated families - the characters continue to surprise, at the same time knowing their role in the plotline. At one point Sara worries that she might be a minor character in her own story, but there’s no worrying about that. You like epistolary novels? That’s there too, in Amy’s letters to Sara. We’ve already figured out that Amy is a bibliophile’s bibliophile, but that’s the beauty of Readers of the Broken Wheel: books change the lives of everyone in the story, and that’s a moral that a bookseller can get behind."— Daniel Goldin
"Coming to a small town in America may not seem like the ideal vacation for most European tourists. But for Sara, it's an ideal trip. The bookstore where Sara worked has gone out of business. It's the perfect time to leave her home in Sweden and visit her pen-pal and fellow bibliophile, Amy, in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Unfortunately, she arrives in Broken Wheel to find Amy has died and she just missed the funeral. Sara's arrival becomes the talk of the town and her new neighbors take it upon themselves to help her stay any way they can, whether she likes it or not. In return for their kindness, Sara is committed to finding just the right book for everyone in town. The best of intentions quickly lead to misunderstandings, shenanigans and self-discovery. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a book for everyone. It is a charming, light-hearted story. If you're not a booklover already, Sara and the town of Broken Wheel may just turn you into one!" --Jen— From Jen's Staff Recommendations
"I love books about books and this beautiful story is about how a small dying Midwestern town is regenerated with the arrival of Swedish bookseller, Sara Lindqvist, who has come to meet her bookloving pen pal, Amy Harris, only to find out that she has died. The townspeople of Broken Wheel, Iowa, in mourning for their beloved Amy, invite Sara to live in Amy's house. Rewarding this hospitality and honoring Amy's memory, Sara opens a bookshop, inventoried with Amy's vast collection of books. As Sara is determined that everyone who lives in Broken Wheel will be matched with just the right book, this community of diverse and engaging characters come to know the transformative power of living between the pages of books...and beyond! This is an inspiringly perceptive and heartwarming ode to reading that booklovers and book clubs will want to add to their list of favorites." --Jane— From Jane's Staff Recommendations
January 2016 Indie Next List
“One of the conundrums facing a true bibliophile has always been: books or people? Sara has spent her entire life in Sweden working in a bookshop and her answer has always been obvious: books. An unexpected pen pal relationship with Amy -- an older book lover from Iowa -- challenges that easy answer and forces her to reconsider her view of herself and the world. After months of corresponding, trading books and sharing details of one another's lives, Amy invites Sara to come visit her one-stoplight town, Broken Wheel, for a summer of reading and getting to know small-town America. However, when Sara arrives, she is greeted by Amy's funeral procession. Thousands of miles from home, with a return ticket dated two months hence, Sara is at a loss for what to do. So, naturally, with Amy's collection of books, she opens a bookstore. Filled with familiar literary references, charming and quirky townsfolk, and plenty of scheming, plotting, and shenanigans that could only occur in a place like Broken Wheel, Bivald's feel-good novel explores that ever-present question: books or people? Read the book and enjoy reaching your own conclusions.”
— Erin Figel (W), pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, CA
A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller
"A heartwarming tale about literature's power to transform." -- People
"Charmingly original...sweet, quirky." -- Washington Post
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor--there's not much else to do in a dying small town that's almost beyond repair.
You certainly wouldn't open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You'd need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy's house is full of them), and...customers.
The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel's own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.
A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.