When Sara leaves Sweden in search of a new adventure she’s in entirely virgin territory. Sara is 28 years old and has never left her homeland. But she’s not heading for the bright lights of New York or L.A.. Nor is she off to Europe to explore London, Paris or Barcelona. No, Sara is heading for Broken Wheel, Iowa.
Sara has been exchanging letters with fellow book enthusiast, Amy Harris, for quite some time. It seems that they’re kindred spirits and when Sara takes up Amy’s offer of a visit to Broken Wheel it seems that she’s about to start an entirely new chapter in her life. And yes, I really did use that particular book pun. But Sara’s long distance friendship is about to take a rather unpredictable twist. And so, the story begins.
Broken Wheel, Iowa seems to be the archetypal one horse town. It consists of four streets, a handful of residents and a row of shops, a diner and a bar, not all of which are in use. But despite this, Broken Wheel will undoubtedly change Sara’s life. She is welcomed by all, given a chaperone, handed some friends and is refused payment every time she attempts to hand over any cash. Sounds like the ingredients for a great holiday, right? But Sara quickly grows frustrated in this routine. And when she senses that the town is not only down on its luck, but is missing a few much needed elements, she decides to take things a step further and making a far more permanent mark on the town.
‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ is a quirky book that is sure to make you smile. Originally written in Swedish and later translated, the novel gets off to a slightly dark and mysterious start, but it isn’t long before said residents – and our heroine, Sara – begin to pique your interest. And here the feelgood factor starts. But that’s not all. The novel is also shrouded in mystery throughout and you’re left with various questions that need an answer all the way through. Each time we meet a new character we’re left at least a little bit intrigued. There’s Sara’s pen pal Amy, well sort of, Grace who’s not actually called Grace (but comes from a family of not really Graces), moody Tom, Andy and his oh so handsome partner Carl who seem far too glamorous and cosmopolitan for Broken Wheel, as well as Caroline, George and the quiet and mysterious John. The characters are the best parts of Broken Wheel and ultimately what keep Sara in town.
However, for me, it was the amount of characters that created a slight problem with the book. I must admit that there were times in reading that I lost track of who everyone was and the way that the narrative can jump around from character to character left me a little puzzled at times. I suppose the counter weight to this was the fact that the action rarely moves from this town in the middle of nowhere and so you never quite lose track! But the interweaving of the towns folk’s narratives with Sara’s own was at times problematic, while also being one of several aspects of the writing that made ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel…’ so interesting. I must admit, that in terms of the outcome of the book, I wasn’t at all sure how things were going to end until almost the final page. And, I suppose that’s got to be a good thing.
‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ is anything but predictable! There are twists and turns aplenty and all set somewhat incongruously in this one horse town in middle America where nothing ever seems to happen, yet everything, it seems, is possible. Sara is the spark that ignites the flame and her arrival signals the start of many a mystery. Her interaction with the residents of Broken Wheel, and in turn their curiosity with her, make for an intriguing read. If you’re looking for a thriller with endless twists and turns, then this isn’t the book for you. Broken Wheel isn’t scary and there aren’t any monsters. However, if you want something a little different, where you’re on the side of the many small town figures that you’ll find within its pages, then ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ comes, well…highly recommended.
I’d give ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’