A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
(Cover image and synopsis from Goodreads.com)
Earlier this week, the books that I ordered for myself while also Christmas shopping arrived. 🙂 Among those books was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I started reading this book on Wednesday and actually ended up finishing it on Thursday.
I found this book to be really sweet, and of course I loved it because it was a book that talked about books. (Be still my bibliophile heart!) Zevin also shows the influence that books can have in a person’s life, as well as how a common interest in books can bring people together. As the novel started, I was actually a little thrown off within the first two chapters as to who the main character was going to be, but I realize that Zevin did this to introduce A.J.’s demeanor and character to the reader through the use of Amelia. I was truly jealous of certain parts of A.J.’s life, such as the fact that he owns a bookstore and also lives in the apartment above.
I was delighted by the character development that occurs throughout The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry with all of the characters, not just what the reader sees with A.J.’s character. I really liked the fact that Zevin included other dynamic characters besides the main character. The book wasn’t really a long one, but I felt like Zevin was able to introduce enough of a story that there was enough packed in to each of the parts. Also, because she had the other characters who were also developed, the storyline was able to progress in a seamless way even when the focus shifted briefly to those other characters.
Within the book, A.J. writes brief reviews of some of his favorite stories. These reviews appear at the beginning of each chapter, and woven through the text are wonderful pearls of wisdom. Some of my favorites are:
- “…the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.”
- “People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?
- “A place is not really a place without a bookstore.”
I keep a book of the quotes that I really enjoy as I read, but in addition to these quotes, I also jot down new words that I come across in texts. Zevin does a brilliant job of making A.J.’s vocabulary reflect his personality as well.
I think this is a great book and I highly recommend The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to anyone who has been thinking of reading it (or even if they haven’t). I haven’t read any of Zevin’s books, but I will certainly try to get my hands on some of them. (To see her other titles visit her website by clicking here.) Happy Saturday and Happy Reading!
*Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for this review of the book. These opinions are my own and I have written the review for the sole purpose of this blog.*