Book Review - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Monday, January 5, 2015
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 1 April 2014
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Library - Hardback

 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.


LOVED THIS!!! Okay, now that that's out of the way, this book is going on my top lists. I went into the book, like I do most books, with a certain idea of how the story would go. It wasn't really at all what I expected, which I liked. The story is all about A.J.'s life, as you can probably guess from the title. At first I had this "poor guy, but what a jerk" feeling towards A.J. However, it didn't last very long before I found his quirks endearing. At first I was a little confused about how time was passing in the book because it doesn't seem to flow at a consistent pace. Some chapters started immediately after the one before it, but others started varying years after the previous chapter. It was a little bit of a hangup at a couple places. Each chapter also starts with an book entry by A.J. which gives clues to what will happen in the following chapter. It took some of the surprise out of parts of the story, but for me there were still things that I didn't see coming.

There are a lot of wonderful, well-developed supporting characters in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Maya is a very intelligent young girl, and it was interesting to watch her grow up through the book with A.J. as an influence. Amelia was the perfect balance to A.J. Lambiase, Ismay, and Daniel each have their part to play in the story. They were each unique characters which was refreshing to read. Many times the secondary characters are all kind of the same character. 

I loved how the story was centered around books. A.J. is a bookstore owner. Amelia is a publishing agent. Daniel is a writer. Ismay is an English teacher. Maya is a reader and future writer. Daniel is a reader. Everyone bonded over books. Since I'm obviously a book person myself (library assistant), I personally love books that incorporate books, especially if love is involved! Timing is also important in the book. Things happened as they were supposed to at the right time to each of the characters. The writing in the book is a little odd from what I'm used to, but I kinda liked it. The plot reminded me of Jojo Moyes in some ways, so if you like her, I'd recommend this one. Although, I'd recommend this to everyone. I cried at the end, so have some tissues ready!

Favorite Quotes:

 We aren't the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.

We read to know we're not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.

You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us,” the passage goes, “but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen to not be alone.


Post a Comment

Thanks for any comments! I truly appreciate receiving them.

I reserve the right to remove any comments which I consider to be attacking another commenter's character or mine. I have no problem with debates and disagreements, but there is no reason to make personal attacks against another person for their views. I will also delete spam.