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Fixed on Fiction

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

For our June meeting, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald-

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 pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy's funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don't understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that's almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend's memory. 
All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

We had an interesting response to The Readers… in our group with six thumbs up votes, one so-so, and four thumbs down votes. Here are some of the initial thoughts readers shared while explaining their votes:

  • Good summer read. Light, entertaining. Really captured a dying small town with the addition of quirky characters.
  • I liked it, but was disappointed in the end. The conclusion was too tidy.
  • I love books about books, so this was a thumbs up for me. I did think she dragged the romances out at the end though.
  • A lot of comedy here. I thought the premise was great- a young, Swedish girl visiting this tiny American town for two months was a great hook.
  • Thumbs down. Interesting characters but a lot of it was contrived and hard to believe.
  • There were a lot of good things here but I was bothered by the romance element. A little too Harlequin.
  • Fun, chick-lit type read. I enjoyed all the books mentioned throughout the story- especially if I had read one. I thought Amy’s death was far-fetched but necessary to make the story happen.
  • I didn’t finish. I just couldn’t make myself read another word. I love books about books, but this just didn’t work for me. Monotonous and the characters lacked dimension. I do think she described small town life well.
  • Thumbs down. I don’t get reading about reading. I want a book with more action. The only time my ears perked up was when Sara and Tom made out on the sofa and that took three months. Not enough character development. And again, reading about reading is too meta for me.

Other thoughts-

  • She spoiled endings of other books and that really bothered me. This is a sin in my opinion.
  • Not all book lovers have read all the classics. I didn’t know how Jane Eyre ended until I read it a few months ago.
  • I liked it when she name dropped books…I won’t remember what Bivald said about each title.
  • It’s interesting that this book is so long but the characters are so poorly developed.
  • How is she filling space without character development? Activities, situations…these ended up feeling mundane.
  • How could Sara not have any dreams or goals? Moving to the USA wasn’t her goal…it just happened to her.
  • I liked the large cast of characters but it was harder to keep them all straight without further development.
  • Like many other books about booklovers   just the mention of great beloved books and just reading do not make the characters interesting; and I usually dislike authors who are just snobbish about this while namedropping their way through a boring narrative. I also thought the writing itself (language, turn of phrase etc.) and editing were not great.

These are just a few of the comments made during our meeting, please feel free to share additional thoughts on The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend in the comments section below. 

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