My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.
This is not Swedish literature as I have known it. It's not dark, or heavy, or full of deep introspection, or grisly, or creepy. This book, is in fact, the antitheses of what I would have thought of when I think of Swedish literature. It is charming and sweet, quirky and fun. It made me smile a lot, laugh a few times, and wish I could actually meet the people of Broken Wheel in real life.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a love letter to books. It is about how books and reading can enrich a person's life, while at the same time, about Sara's personal journey to live a life beyond her books.
The story is a familiar one, of an outsider walking into an insular community and upsetting things and breathing new life into the community and its people. It's been done before, but Bivald made it her own. Sara is a consummate bookworm who travels to small-town USA to visit her pen pal--only to arrive and find that Amy had just died. She decides to try staying in Broken Wheel, and eventually opens up a bookshop in Amy's memory, determined to turn the citizens of Broken Wheel into readers.
I fell in love with Bivald's characters and cheered for them all. I loved watching them move out of their comfort zones and become happier with life because of Sara and the changes she causes in the town, both directly and indirectly.
Because, books broaden horizons. Readers of fiction have more empathy and are more open to new ideas and people -- this is something that has been shown in scientific studies. And the people in Broken Wheel found their horizons broadened and how. In return, they taught Sara that there was life outside of books, and that human connections were as important as fictional ones. I like to think that Sara was Amy's dying gift to Broken Wheel and vice versa.
Lastly, I love quotes. Adore them. I like my wisdom pithy. And The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was full of wonderful, amazing quotable quotes about reading, books, and life.
Never live your life according to the idiots' rules. Because they'll drag you down to their level, they'll win, and you'll have a damned awful time in the process.I greatly enjoyed this book and hope that Bivald writes more, and that we see her future works translated for the US market.