This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.
It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.
Or is it? – Goodreads
I’ve never read a book about books. In fact, I was nervous—partly because of the mixed reviews, partly because, well, it’s about books. Intimate, familiar objects and adventures that would be odd to read about in, well, a book. Bookception?
Sara is a book lover from Sweden. Through an online book transaction she befriends Amy, an old book lover living in a tiny town in Iowa. They become pen pals, and after a while, decide to meet. When Sara shows up, she learns that Amy passed away days prior to her arrival. She ends up staying at Amy’s house and opening a bookstore in her honor.
Side note: I highlighted so many passages in this book. I could relate to so many things and wanted to quote so much in this blog post…so get ready for a deluge of bookish quotes from The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.
It must have been a frightening realization: so many books she would never get to pick up, so many stories that would happen without her, so many authors she would never get to discover. That night, Sara sat in Amy’s library for hours, thinking about how tragic it was that the written word was immortal while people were not, and grieving for her, the woman she had never met.
If it wasn’t clear already, I love books with every fiber of my being. They are old friends, new friends, old adventures, new adventures, emotions, experiences…so much is wrapped up in a few hundred pages and a bound cover. I can remember where I was at in life when reading a particularly good book.
This book captures the emotion and life changing power of books. Broken Wheel is a broken, dead town with few residents with little hope for its future. Sara rolls into town, and, using books, breathes some life back into it. People begin to read, to experience new adventures. They come together. There is death, life, love, laughter, sadness. This book captures the difficulties of being a single mother, racism, homophobia, an affair between an older woman and a younger man, bisexuality, alcoholism, being alone, losing your family, religion, poverty.
Sara smiled. Hardback and paperback books smelled different from each other, but there were also differences between English and Swedish paperback editions. Classics, for example, had a smell all their own. Textbooks had their own unique aroma, and university texts were different from those used in schools. Interestingly, adult education books smelled just like schoolbooks, with that familiar scent of classrooms, restlessness and stuffiness.
It was a slow, leisurely read. In fact, I docked a half a star because it was a tad too slow in parts. I never felt like I NEEDED to pick the book up and finish it. I would pick it up, read some, set it down. It was slow and relaxed, just like the pace and feel of the story.
The characters were great—I fell in love with everyone in Broken Wheel.It’s peppered with Amy’s letters, which allows the reader to get to know her even though she’s gone. I could identify with Sara quite a bit, and loved her as a quiet, unassuming main character. She could have had a little more depth—but I truly think she lived her entire life with her nose in a book and didn’t develop other hobbies. Hell, I can identify with that.
I rated this a 4.5/5 and added it to my favorites shelf. There’s something about this sweet little read that made me fall in love with it. I know it’s not for everyone—but isn’t that the beauty of books?
A huge thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review!