Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Julie's Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Series: None
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 272
Obtained: Publisher via She Reads
Genre:  Contemporary
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A simple and sweet story for book lovers.
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab
Summary: We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works. 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 Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry 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, he 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, though large in weight — an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. 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., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, 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.

Review: Here's the thing, if you don't love books or aren't an avid reader, then The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry isn't going to be your cup of tea. If there ever was a book that really had a target audience it's this one. I'm not saying someone who reads occasionally won't enjoy the book, but there is definitely something intimate in it for book nerds. It isn't even the references to great works of literature or A.J.'s snobbery towards certain genres. It is about love for the written word and how we incorporate that into our daily lives.

This novel is truly character driven, sure there's a bit of a mystery when it comes to A.J.'s missing copy of Tamerlane but other than that it's about the relationships that are built. It is about love and being loved. A.J. isn't the most likable character at first but he grows on you as he changes. He's not a horrible human, he's just a miserable person. It isn't until Maya is deposited into his life that he finds his cold heart thawing. In some ways, I believe that Maya was his true love and not Nic or Amelia.

The story isn't complex, nor does it have a lot of subplots running through it. It is a simple and sweet story. It is about how books affect and can shape our lives. It is about connecting with other people and opening your heart up, even if it means being hurt. It is about taking pride in being a book nerd and pride in being who you are. I definitely liked this book. It was a sweet read and quick. It is the characters that drove the story. It was A.J. who everything was centered around but really it was about his bookstore and how it brought people together.



Stacie April 23, 2014 at 10:45 AM  

Another great review for this book. Must. Find. Time. To. Read. It. I'm hoping this summer!

Beth Hoffman April 23, 2014 at 3:55 PM  

I recently read this book and your review is spot on, Julie!

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