Book Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
April 9, 2015
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. 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.
I’ve read mixed reviews on this one, but when my friend Meghan gave it 5 stars, I knew I had to read it (we often have similar tastes in books). Overall, I found this to be a quick, enjoyable read with characters that will stay with you for awhile.
On the Plus Side:
- I love the setting of this book – an island that is largely uninhabited during the winter months, but is a huge vacation spot during the summer. It feels so quaint and comfortable….a place I’d like to visit. Not only does it take place on this quaint island, but most of the action occurs in a book store – book lovers will adore this aspect of the story.
- The characters are just so endearing – the main characters as well as the ancillary characters. They are all well developed, and you just want to read more about them once the story is over.
- I love how you experience A.J. recover from the loss of his wife, and how he learns to love again in so many ways. This storyline is one that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go.
- I love the book references throughout the story – they are a diverse group of references, and I love how the particular book references help to develop the characters. It makes me think about which books I would select to describe myself or my friends (hmmmmm…..possible future post alert ).
- This is a fairly quick read – it would make for a good vacation read, but be warned that not everything is always happily-ever-after.
On the Minus Side:
- For me, there were no minuses. I may not have loved it quite as much as some others, but it was definitely a good, solid read for me that I would recommend for all of you!
What did you think of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry?