Monday, August 18, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry 
by Gabrielle Zevin

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

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.
(Description from

This quirky story is set up in chapters, each headed by a different "review" of a book. As A.J.'s life changes, the reader sees the reflections in the vignettes of his life, and in the ways that the "reviews" change. The story is touching and heartfelt, I could not help but be charmed as cranky A.J. went from being the curmudgeonly bookseller to being a family man and part of the life blood of his small town.    

Zevin is an author that I like in general and I loved this foray into the adult world.  I felt that the characters were interesting and the whole concept was exceedingly well done.  The way the story unfolded was easy to follow and drew me right in, making me much more emotionally invested than I had thought I would be.  This was one of my favorite summer reads. 

Full disclosure: Borrowed from my Library

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